CHENNAI: By his own admission, Cricket Association of Bihar secretary Aditya Verma is just a cricket buff. “No, no, not like Gurunath Meiyappan,” he chuckles, the sarcastic undertone obvious. “I’m a normal cricket fan like you and the million others in the country. I’m just a cricket addict,” he explains.
He is not a crusader, as has been projected, fighting the rot in the game, he affirms. “I like the game. I just want the administration to be fair and transparent. Seeing all the misuse, I was naturally upset and decided to fight. Someone has to stand up. Thank God, the fight has been successful until now.”
His devoutness is palpable. “I’m a religious man. I regularly visit temples. It gives me a lot of mental strength. I have been carrying a red scarf, which I had got from the Dakshineswar Kali temple in Kolkata, to the court. I wouldn’t say it was because of the scarf the verdict went in our favour, but when I have it in my pocket I always feel confident. Of course, we were lucky to get good lawyers,” he says.
Not merely good lawyers. But high-profile ones. Harish Salve, Nalini Chidambaram and Abhishek Singhvi, the names roll of his tongue with a sense of pride. Ask him how he manages their exorbitant fees. He is a tour operator. His means are modest. He explains the economics: “I don’t pay them. It’s my close friend and mentor Subodh Kant Sahay who brings them. I don’t know whether he pays them or how much he pays.”
Their Congress connection is obvious. Sahay is a Congressman. A sitting MP in Ranchi. Harish Salve is the son of former Board president NKP Salve, who was also a veteran Congressman. Nalini Chidambaram is the wife of another Congress veteran P Chidambaram. Singhvi, too, is a Congressman.
The public consensus is that he is backed by Srinivasan dissenters. Several prominent names including former president Sharad Pawar’s have done the rounds. Former IPL chairman Lalit Modi even claimed he was waging a proxy war with Verma as the cover. There is a hint of understatement in that. But Verma is dismissive: “As I have told before, I’m backed by Sahayji. Of course, I know both Pawarji and Modiji. Pawarji only helped me to get the CAB registered seven years ago. But they are not behind me. I’m not the Shikhandi in Mahabharata.”
The CAB is a touchy point. His only ambition, he claims, is to help get CAB full-time membership. “That will be the happiest day of life. It’s for this that I’ve done so much effort. It’s unfair that ours is a much bigger state than Jharkhand and while we are not recognised, they are hosting international matches,” he grouses. This grouse, he confides, was the motivation for the fight. And the fight, he promises, will continue till the CAB gets the BCCI approval.