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IPL 6: Board Members Parry Questions On Srinivasan Ouster

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As demands for N Srinivasan's resignation as BCCI President continued, three important members of the cricket board today parried questions on the issue even as the beleaguered chief complained that the media was hounding him.

BJP MP and former cricketer Kirti Azad made an oblique criticism of IPL Chairman Rajeev Shukla and his party leader Arun Jaitley, both important office-bearers of BCCI, as to why they were not raising their voice against Srinivasan's continuance.

"Where are those keepers of high moral values in both UPA and NDA...why are not they raising voice on the removal of Srinivasan over IPL scandal?" the BJP MP asked.

"These people who raise voice in Parliament on any political issue are not speaking in public over the spot fixing in IPL and removal of BCCI chief over the dirty episode," he told PTI.

"The people who raised pitch of their voice to seek resignation of former Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yedurappa or NDA leaders who presurrised P K Bansal and Ashwani Kumar to quit Manmohan Singh cabinet are silent over such a sensitive issue," the Lok Sabha member from Darbhanga said.

When confronted by newsmen at the Congress office, IPL Chairman Shukla declined to comment on the raging isssue.

Chennai Hotelier To Be Issued Summons
Meanwhile, a Chennai hotelier, who allegedly led the IPL betting syndicate in the southern city and was a crucial link between CSK team owner Gurunath Meiyappan and actor Vindoo Randhawa, will be issued summons to appear before the Mumbai crime branch probing the racket, police said.

"Vikram Agarwal, a hotelier, who was handling Chennai operations of the betting syndicate, and a crucial link between Meiyappan and Vindoo, will be issued summons asking him to appear before us," Joint Commissioner (crime) Himanshu Roy told reporters.

Roy claimed, Agarwal, owner of Radisson Blu hotel, was also a "key link" between the betting syndicate and Bollywood celebrities. He, however, did not divulge the names of tinsel town personalities who were in touch with Agarwal.

Srinivasan Digs In His Heels
Digging in his heels further, beleaguered BCCI President N Srinivasan yet again rejected demands for his resignation and announced the setting up of a three-member commission to go into allegations against his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan, who has been arrested on charges of betting in IPL matches.

Seeking to ride the storm threatening his continuance as chief of BCCI, he asserted that he has done nothing wrong, there was no revolt against him in BCCI and made it clear that he cannot be "railroaded, pushed and threatened to quit".

Promising firm and strict action if allegations are proven against his son-in-law who was Chennai Super Kings team principal, Srinivasan told a press conference that the BCCI is very concerned by the allegations that have been made concerning the IPL whether it is betting or spot-fixing.

Citing IPL operational rules that provide for various sanctions ranging from fine to suspensions and termination of the franchise, he referred to media reports on clause 11.3 of the franchise agreement and whether Gurunath, an owner of the franchise, was in violation.

"It is for the Commission to look into this. The BCCI is very concerned over the allegation whether those relate to betting or spot-fixing. As I have said on a number of occasions, the BCCI will act firmly and strictly if the allegations are proven.

"The principles of natural justice are every person has a right to hearing and to be considered innocent until proven guilty," he said in his opening statement at the press conference.

Read: Srinivasan Refuses To Quit
Read: IPL 6 Is More Sleaze Than Biz

Earlier in the day, the BCCI suspended Gurunath from all activities of cricket including in CSK. Srinivasan also met BCCI officials, including IPL Chairman Rajeev Shukla and Vice President Arun Jaitley before addressing the press conference.

Claiming to set aside his personal feelings as father and father-in-law in "these difficult days", Srinivasan gave an assurance that he would not shirk from his duties.

"However difficult it may be, the BCCI will act without fear or favour to investigate and if the circumstances warrant, punish any player and match officials, team management or franchise that have breached BCCI or IPL regulations," he said.

However, Srinivasan stonewalled questions on Meiyappan's role, saying he had distanced himself from him and that the inquiry commission would go into everything on the issue.

"I am not part of this commission and I will not play any role in its appointment, deliberations or decisions," he said.

The three-member enquiry commission will consist of two members of the IPL Operations Commitee and a person entirely independent of BCCI in whose appointment he will have no role.

The five members of the committee are Arun Jaitley, Rajeev Shukla, Sanjay Jagdale, Ajay Shirke and Ravi Shastri.

"Two of them along with an independent commissioner will go into charges against Meiyappan and we will abide by their report. There will be an independent person and I will await the report as much as you. I will not shirk from my duty," he said in reply to a volley of questions on what action was being proposed against Gurunath.

The disciplinary procedure under the operational rules shall be initiated and the commission will abjudicate whether Gurunath is in breach of rules that require all persons not to act in any way that would have an adverse affect on the image and the reputation of BCCI or the IPL which otherwise bring the entity into disrepute, Srinivasan said. He said the same procedure would be applied in the case of management of Rajasthan Royals.

Referring to media campaign againt him, Srinivasan said some of these reports are over-stepped certain bounds and asked the media to be weary of trial by them. "Persons who have been suspended by the BCCI, known defaulters, fugitives from Indian justice systems and other vested interests keen to discredit me and the BCCI have indulged in a smear campaign in the last few days. The unfair attack has been directionless", he said.

Referring to reports that there would be a revolt against him in the BCCI, he said this was completely untrue and there was unity in the Board. "I have not been asked by anybody to resign. To the contrary, my support is complete and I refuse to yield to unfair and motivated attacks. I intend to continue my duties as President of the BCCI," he said.

The BCCI will take whatever steps necessary to justify the faith that the public have in the IPL and in Indian cricket. Srinivasan said there was no allegation against CSK as a team.

As for Gurunath, he said he did not have any role in the running of the team. He was enthusiastic and has been travelling with the team. "What is his role, whether he transcended any rules. The Commission will deal with it. The enquiry commission will go into it. I have nothing to say, I am not going to sit and explore what his role was or was not.

"All these questions will be gone into. I have distanced myself. I will not be part of the committee or its discussions," Srinivasan said.

Answering questions on how the CSK was run, he said the India Cements which owns CSK ran 10 or 12 teams in Chennai cricket league and has been supporting cricket by employing cricketers of these teams on its staff for over 50 years.  The CFO of India Cements handle the finances of the CSK and another top official of the company handled its marketing and other operations.

To a pointed question, he said "first and foremost, I am not an accused. I have done nothing wrong. What is his (Gurunath's) role...He did not have any role in the management. Let the Commission go into it. It will give the report to the Board as a whole. I will play no role. Everything will be done swiftly."

Srinivasan said the BCCI's Anti-Corruption Unit report on the allegation of spot-fixing by the Rajasthan Royals players S Sreesanth, Ankeet Chavan, Ajit Chandila and Amit Singh will be submitted on time.

"The BCCI will continue to offer assistance to the police and if the inquries bring any suspicion on any other players" he said.

"With regard to Gurunath, the legal process has already started and he's facing police investigation. The BCCI has already taken the decision to provisionally suspend him from all activities in cricket and particularly from all involvement within CSK franchise.

"The management of the other franchise, the Rajasthan Royals will also be subject to same inquiry procedure. I am not part of this commission and I will not play any role in its appointment, deliberations or decision," he said.

Srinivasan said the IPL was very important and it gave an opportunity for young Indian players to play with senior Indian and overseas players in front of capacity crowd. It helped bring a new audience to the game.

This season over 21 lakh people bought tickets to watch matches. The IPL continues to contribute to the funds for the development of cricket in India", Srinivsan said. "I do not want to minimise the problems facing the IPL.

Indians have been very proud that our country has produced a league that is the envy of the world. The BCCI will take whatever steps necessary to justify the faith that the public have in the IPL and in Indian cricket," he said.

Vindoo Lured Me To Betting, Gurunath To  Cops
Mumbai police 'confronted' CSK Team Principal Gurunath Meiyappan with actor Vindoo Dara Singh during questioning about IPL betting rackets. According to Crime branch sources, Gurunath told the investigators that it was Vindoo who introduced him to betting. Police also collected Gurunath's voice sample for verification of his alleged telephonic conversations with Vindoo.

"Gurunath and Vindoo were today made to sit face-to-face and were questioned," a senior Crime branch official said. After his arrest on 21 May, Vindoo allegedly told the police that he placed bets on Meiyappan's behalf. Meiyappan, son-in-law of BCCI president N Srinivasan, was arrested on Friday. He would remain in police custody till 29 May.

Vindoo was allegedly in "frequent touch" with Meiyappan during the IPL matches. He has reportedly told the Crime branch sleuths that Meiyappan had lost Rs 1 crore in betting.

While seeking Gurunath's custody, Crime branch had told the court that he had placed huge bets on IPL matches after fixing them. "First, a particular match was fixed, then Gurunath used to place huge bets on those matches," the police's remand application said.

Meanwhile, police are likely to crack down on betting networks and bookies in Mumbai as, according to Crime branch officials, Vindoo had named some local bookies through whom he placed bets.

The Crime branch has issued a look-out circular against alleged bookies Pawan and Sanjay Jaipur who escaped to Dubai with the help of Vindoo soon after police arrested six bookies earlier this month.

Sreesanth, Chavan Seek Bail
Claiming that he has been falsely implicated in IPL spot-fixing case, pacer S Sreesanth, whose police custody was extended by two days, has sought bail in a Delhi court which will hear the plea on Tuesday.

Sreesanth's Rajasthan Royal team-mate Ankeet Chavan has also sought relief on the grounds that his marriage is scheduled on 2 June this year. Both the players moved their bail pleas before Metropolitan Magistrate Anuj Aggarwal who fixed 28 May for hearing before Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Lokesh Kumar Sharma.

In his bail plea, Sreesanth has said that "no case is made out against me and I have been falsely implicated." Sreesanth's advocate Vishal Gosain said that, "The penal provisions invoked against him are not made out. He has not cheated anybody." Gosain also said, "The particular over, about which the police is saying was fixed, was bowled by Sreesanth in a regular manner."

Meanwhile, Chavan, who was remanded in judicial custody till 4 June, sought bail saying that his marriage was nearing and the ceremonies were going on. His lawyer Kishore Gayakwad told the court that "Chavan's marriage has already been fixed and it is on 2 June, so he be granted bail",

Sreesanth, Chavan and their teammate Ajit Chandila, who all were playing for Rajasthan Royals, were arrested in Mumbai by Delhi police for their alleged involvement in spot-fixing in IPL matches for payments up to Rs 60 lakhs for giving away pre-determined number of runs in an over.