Sourav Ganguly denies political backing in his election as BCCI president

Published : October 16, 2019 15:57 IST

BCCI President-designate Sourav Ganguly greeted by fans on his arrival at the airport in Kolkata on October 15. Photo: PTI

After getting elected unopposed as the president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on October 14, apparently with the support of some heavyweight leaders of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the Centre, former India captain Sourav Ganguly insists that there was no political backing behind his election to the post. Speculation gathered strength when Ganguly met Union Home Minister Amit Shah the day before the election. His name was also proposed by Anurag Thakur, Union Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs.

Describing his meeting with Amit Shah as a “special” occasion for him, Ganguly tried to put to rest questions regarding his joining active politics in the days to come. “I have heard these questions before, when I had met Mamata didi, and you have seen the outcome…. Neither did I ask him to influence my candidature as the president nor did he say anything about a quid pro quo in case I got the position,” he said. The Union Home Minister’s son, Jay Shah, is set to assume the post of secretary of the BCCI.

Amit Shah, too, denied that there was any “deal” between him and Sourav Ganguly. “If he does [join the BJP] it is good, but there was no such deal with him about it,” Shah reportedly said. There have been whispers in political circles since 2014 of Sourav Ganguly taking the plunge in politics and perhaps joining the BJP. The fact is that an influential section of the BJP in Bengal has been keen for quite some time that Sourav Ganguly join the saffron party. It cannot be denied that even though the BJP has made rapid political strides in the State and has emerged as a serious threat to the ruling Trinamool Congress, it still does not have a “face” to serve as a rallying point against the popularity of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, nor has it been able to make a dent in Kolkata, where the Trinamool’s vote share has actually increased (having decreased in most other parts of the State).

“There is really very little alternative as far as winning the seats in Kolkata is concerned. Sourav Ganguly is the only one whose popularity can match that of Mamata’s. He is intelligent, has the charisma, he is a typical Bengali bhadrolok (traditional Bengali gentleman), who can also dance with his shirt off. This has been on the cards for a long time,” a senior BJP leader told Frontline. Although Ganguly was also known to be close to the former Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Left Front government, it is important to note that it was at the direct intervention of Mamata Banerjee that he assumed the position of president of Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) unopposed in 2015 after the death of former CAB president and president of the International Cricket Council, Jagmohan Dalmiya.