In a surprising development, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday announced that former Indian cricket captain Sourav Ganguly will take over as Cricket Association of Bengal’s new president succeeding the late administrator Jagmohan Dalmiya.
Banerjee also announced that the late BCCI chief’s son Abhishek will be the new CAB joint secretary, a post held by Ganguly for long.
The announcement triggered resentment among an influential section of CAB members, who said the autonomous association’s constitution and rules have been “sidestepped”. However, the dissenters admitted they did not have the stomach to go against the chief minister’s wish and force a contest. Rather, they would wait for the CAB AGM next July.
“The CAB bigwigs have decided that now Sourav Ganguly will take over as the association’s president,” Banerjee said after a meeting with office-bearers and senior members of the cash-rich body at the state secretariat Nabanna.
The meeting, held four days after Damiya’s death and a day after Ganguly and Dalmiya called on the chief minister at Nabanna, was attended among others by he other CAB joint secretary Subir Ganguly and treasurer Biswarup Dey, besides ministers Arup Biswas and Subrata Mukerjee – both members of its working committee. Ganguly and Abhishek also addressed the media.
In a bid to stave off criticism of political interference in the affairs of the CAB, Banerjee said the decisions were taken by the CAB members.
“My only request to them is to work as a united family in this moment of crisis and together carry forward Jaguda’s work for the benefit of Bengal cricket.
“I have not taken the decisions. It is not my world, though I love sports. We are with them in their crisis as colleagues, friends,” she said.
Asked whether the state government had a role in the decisions, Banerjee said: “Don’t put such questions. I don’t want a controversy. I am nobody. It is they who have decided to be together in this crisis. They are all cricket lovers. I only communicated their decisions.”
Praising Ganguly, she said: “He was the Indian cricket team captain. If a captain gets to work as an administrator, that’s not bad. We have all seen how good Jaguda was as an administrator. I think all of them are good administrators.”
Ganguly said as per CAB rules, a meeting of the members would be convened to take a call on the issue.
Thanking his colleagues who decided to give him the responsibility, he said: “If all the CAB members agree, I will take over the responsibility.”
On whether it was a new challenge for him, Ganguly replied: “Everything in life is new and a challenge. You just got to keep working every day.”
Refering to his role as CAB joint secretary for over one year, he said: “We will all work together.”
Expressing happiness over Abhishek’s entry into cricket administration, Ganguly said: “I think that’s the best part. It is an emotional moment for Abhishek. We will support him through thick and thin, whatever happens.”
Quizzed whether the decisions were in deference to the chief minister’s wishes, Ganguly said: “It is not her sole decision. It is the decision of the members as well, She has spoken to all the members.”
On when the new committee will take over, he said: “Immediately. We will speak to the members. And see what’s the best. Because we haveA a game on October 8 (India vs South Africa twenty20 at the Eden Gardens).”
Abhishek said Banerjee has always been supportive whenever cricket in Bengal faced a crisis.
“Whenever my dad (Dalmiya) faced a problem, he always found her by his side. So today also as she rightly said there is a crisis in Bengal cricket, and she has asked the cricket fraternity to be together for betterment of cricket in Bengal. So accordingly we are all there.”
“Whatever we had in our mind, we just communicated to her. And she has been very supportive.”
Dey, who was so long considered a contender for the top post, said: “It is a time of crisis. Dalmiya’s last rites have been performed only three days back. I can’t say a lot at this moment. But somebody has to take responsibility. Sourav will take over the responsibilities of president at this juncture.”
Excepting a 19-month hiatus between December 2006 and July 2008, Dalmiya held on to the CAB president’s post from 1993 till his death on Sunday.