Kolkata: His measured cover drives may have earned him a place in the hearts of millions of cricket aficionados, but former India captain Sourav Ganguly has yet to prove his popularity as a cricket administrator.
The first test awaits him as the Cricket Association Bengal (CAB), of which he has been the president since last September, prepares to hold elections at the end of this month to select a new executive committee.
Within days of erstwhile president Jagmohan Dalmiya’s death on 20 September 2015, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee put Ganguly at the helm of the CAB, in a controversial move that infuriated many cricket administrators. Though Banerjee and the Trinamool Congress had by then extended their control over most clubs and sports bodies in the state, the CAB officials hadn’t anticipated it.
Though miffed by the chief minister’s unilateral decision to promote Ganguly from joint secretary to president, they had to swallow it without any protest.
But time may have arrived for Ganguly to face an election—held at the CAB once every four years—and the man known as “Prince of Calcutta”, who is relatively new to cricket administration, has already started to campaign.
“To my mind, there is no doubt that Sourav will continue as the president,” said former CAB joint secretary Bablu Koley. “It is unlikely that anyone will contest at all.”
The section backing Ganguly are of the view that the CAB needs his charisma to take cricket in the state to the next level. And because the CAB is the custodian of the Eden Gardens, it needs someone of the stature of Ganguly to realize the true potentials one of the world’s most celebrated cricket grounds.
If ordained by the chief minister to be so, Ganguly will win uncontested. But, at the same time, a section of officials are lobbying the chief minister and her confidantes to grant CAB’s 121 constituents a chance to choose their own boss.
“An election should be held,” said a key official, asking not to be named. “But it all depends on whether or not the chief minister wants it.”
CAB is expected to announce a date for polling on Saturday after a meeting of its
so-called working committee, according to Subir Ganguly, one of CAB’s two joint secretaries.
Asked if an election was going to be held at all, he said, “You’d know only after nominations have been filed...the process hasn’t even started.”
Sourav Ganguly wasn’t immediately available for comment.
The group opposed to Ganguly carrying on as the president claim they can oust him if an election is held. “Sourav is a star cricketer, but as an administrator he still does not have popular support,” said one of them, asking not to be identified.
Even so, the group might not push for an election against the wishes of the chief minister. CAB has to work closely with the state government, and it is impossible for the CAB president to deliver unless he enjoys the support of the state government.
“To host a match at the Eden Gardens, for instance, you need to work with at least six departments of the state government,” said the person cited above.
Another bone of contention is Avishek Dalmiya, son of the late Jagmohan Dalmiya, who on the death of his father was appointed joint secretary by the chief minister. It appears that Banerjee wants both Ganguly and Avishek Dalmiya to continue, said the group seeking a free election.
Avishek Dalmiya too wasn’t immediately available for comment.
CAB’s executive committee comprises two joint secretaries but it doesn’t have a secretary.