Just not cricket: Sourav Ganguly BCCI innings set to end, Bengal parties blame ‘spurned’ BJP

As Sourav Ganguly’s term as BCCI president is coming to an endpolitical parties in West Bengal claim foul play by the BJP. Referring to how Ganguly was courted by the BJP ahead of the 2021 parliamentary elections, they claimed the former Indian skipper paid the price for saying no to the BJP.

Before the Assembly polls in 2021, when the BJP had made proclamations about giving a fight to the TMC, Ganguly’s name had emerged as a likely prime minister candidate of the party. Ganguly, who kept his cards close to his chest, hadn’t plunged into politics in the end.

On May 7 this year, Ganguly had hosted a dinner at his home to visit Union Minister Amit Shah, sparking another round of speculation.

When the Trinamool Congress targeted the BJP, especially Shah, after news broke that Roger would replace Binny Ganguly, the CPM and Congress asked how the BCCI could justify keeping Amit Shah’s son, Jay Shah, stayed, but Ganguly ‘dumped’. After the Supreme Court changed its order and amended the cooling-off clause in the BCCI constitution, his office holders, incumbent President Ganguly and Secretary Shah were all entitled to an extension.

Binny, a member of the 1983 World Cup winning team, submitted his nomination on Tuesday for the position of BCCI president and is likely to land the top job unopposed when the board of directors holds its AGM on October 18.

TMC spokesman Kunal Ghosh said: “The BJP previously gave the impression that” Sourav Ganguly would join them. But that didn’t happen… I’m not saying anything directly… but since the BJP used his name before, during and after the Assembly polls, it’s the BJP that has to answer people why he isn’t getting a second BCCI term. It seems that the BJP is trying to humiliate Sourav.”

Before the BJP appeared to have targeted Ganguly as the face it needed for Bengalis, the batter who is hugely popular in the state had been provoked by the Trinamool. Sources close to him said he was under enormous pressure from both sides in the run-up to the 2021 polls and ultimately decided not to enter politics.

Incidentally, it is believed that since the elections, in which the BJP was ultimately unable to stop the advance of the TMC, Ganguly had come close to the ruling Bengali party again.

A source close to the cricketer said: “His association with TMC leaders makes the BJP unhappy. That is probably the reason behind his exclusion from the BCCI.” Earlier this year, days after hosting the dinner for Shah, Ganguly met Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in Nabanna, and also attended a “thank you rally to UNESCO” held by the TMC government for its heritage label to Durga Puja.

The Bangladeshi BJP leadership denied any “vendetta” against Ganguly and said not to make politics about a sports personality like him.

BJP National Vice President Dilip Ghosh called the allegations “baseless”.

BJP leader Samik Bhattacharya said that by dragging Ganguly’s name into politics, the other parties “essentially humiliated Ganguly, his career, credit and credibility”.

A senior BJP leader said the Ganguly chapter should not be considered closed. “You never know, he could be nominated as head of the ICC (International Cricket Council) in the future. So this is not the time to conclude anything.”

A Indian Express report released on Wednesday, however, said this was a distant possibility, with the BCCI unlikely to back Ganguly.

Among those who drew a parallel between Ganguly’s case and Jay Shah’s was TMC Rajya Sabha MP Santanu Sen. “Another example of political vendetta. Son of @AmitShah can be retained as secretary of #BCCI. But @SGanguly99 can’t be. Is it because he is from @MamataOfficial state or because he did not join @BJP4India?” he tweeted.

Congress Lok Sabha MP and West Bengal President Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury told: The Indian Express: “Just to project Jay Shah, the BJP dumps Sourav Ganguly. His stature and personality in the BCCI surpassed that of Jay Shah. That is why he is unceremoniously evicted… Ganguly is not only the pride of Bengal, but also the pride of the country.’

CPM leader Sujan Chakraborty said Ganguly was a natural claimant for the BCCI presidential post. “He is a former Indian captain and led the team from the front. Now, Jay Shah will continue and Sourav will fall, this is not acceptable. In Bengal, the TMC, and in the country, the BJP, have always tried to enter sports institutions to push.”

According to some leaders, the reason Ganguly was so close to the BJP was due to his working with Jay Shah, a BCCI secretary. At the dinner on May 6 organized by Ganguly for Shah at his hometown in Kolkatathe other guests included opposition leader Suvendu Adhikari and state BJP president Sukanta Majumder.

Ganguly also praised the built-in cricket stadium Ahmedabadthe world’s largest, named after Narendra Modic. He regretted not being able to attend the launch, tweeting “what an effort it must have been to create this”, and praised the “leadership of the Honorable Prime Minister @narendramodi (and) Amit Shah @AmitShah”.

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