West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has spoken out against former cricketer Sourav Ganguly not being considered for a second term as president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
On October 17 she said: “I speak on behalf of the entire country and cricket lovers all over the world: Sourav is our pride. He has shown his competence not only in the cricket pitch, but also in administration work. I will humbly request the Prime Minister to ensure that Sourav is allowed to contest in the ICC elections.”
According to her, being allowed to contest in the ICC elections should be Sourav’s “compensation” for the “unfair manner” in which he was left out of the BCCI.
She added: “There was a court order that gave both him and Amit Shah’s son a term of three years. But I do not know for what reason Amit babu’s son remained and Sourav was left out. Why is he being deprived? What is his fault? He is Bengal’s Dada; a pride of the country and the world. He is a popular figure. Is that why he is being deprived? I am really shocked.”
Although this was the first time Mamata Banerjee has spoken on the issue, her party has been up in arms ever since it was known. Trinamool spokesperson Kunal Ghosh insinuated that the BJP was trying to “humiliate” Ganguly for not joining it.
A rumour that Ganguly would be joining the BJP gained strength ahead of the Assembly election in West Bengal in 2021, although he was tightlipped about it. In May this year, Union Home Minister Amit Shah made a highly publicised visit to Sourav’s residence and had dinner with his family. “Since the BJP had floated the propaganda that Sourav Ganguly was joining the BJP, it will have to respond to such speculation,” said Kunal Ghosh.
However, the West Bengal unit of the BJP dismissed Trinamool’s allegations and accused the party of politicising the issue. Party spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya said, “Trinamool is demeaning the stature of Sourav Ganguly and undermining his achievements. We do not wish to enter into any political exchanges over this.” Bhattacharya alleged that this was Trinamool’s ploy of diverting attention from the issue of corruption in the State.