Politics makes strange bedfellows, and the forthcoming election at the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) is currently the hotbed for politicians looking to get a grip on the handle of the sports body.
Speculations are rife that Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan may be the latest entrant to throw his hat in the ring for the top job at MCA after he filed his nomination from Mazgaon Cricket Club yesterday to become their authorised representative for the October 18 MCA polls. This opens up a possibility of Chavan opposing the former MCA president Sharad Pawar in next month’s elections. Chavan will now enjoy voting rights in the MCA.
Mazgaon Cricket Club is the same club previously represented by former MCA president and ex-CM late Vilasrao Deshmukh.
“Chavansaab is a cricket-lover. He takes keen interest in the game. After Vilasraosaab passed away (last year), we were looking for someone with a similar stature, who could occupy the seat. We did not want just anybody to come in because that would have been an insult to the stature of Vilasraosaab,” said Shah Alam Shaikh, who owns Mazgaon Cricket Club.
“We had approached Chavansaab sometime back. He signed the letter before leaving for Aurangabad (on a political tour),” he added.
Alam was, however, non-committal on Chavan’s intention to contest for the president’s post in the forthcoming polls. “It will be entirely his decision. We, as a group, will abide and are prepared if he wants to contest. Our role was only to find a suitable candidate for the post made vacant by the demise of Vilasraosaab,” said Alam. It was Alam who was instrumental in bringing Deshmukh into cricket too
When pressed further on Chavan’s agenda to enter the MCA, Alam said: “He would definitely have some plans for Mumbai’s cricket. But, I am not aware of what they are as of now. He just signed the letter of nomination which we have submitted to the MCA.”
Today is the last day to submit nominations for the polls.
Meanwhile, Pawar has all but announced his decision to contest for the president’s post, which is currently held by Ravi Savant. The current president told MiD DAY in an interview recently that Pawar had expressed his desire to head the body again.
With Chavan entering the MCA fray, the Congress appears to have made a firm political pitch at ‘D’ Road, Churchgate to combat Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).
However, MCA sources have indicated that it will be premature to envisage a Chavan versus Pawar battle. “It is unlikely that Chavan might contest for an MCA post this time. He might do so at a later stage. He won’t take a risk while taking baby steps in Mumbai cricket. He will at least need a few years to get versed with the groupism in the MCA. Pawar, on the other hand, is a proven performer. He still has majority support,” an MCA source said.
Another MCA official viewed Chavan’s entry as pressure tactics from the Congress camp on the NCP. “Pawar enjoys a good hold in the MCA. With Chavan coming into the picture, Pawar would feel some pressure. Chavan is now a potential threat to Pawar’s supremacy in MCA,” he said.
The new development has, however, not gone down well with the city’s genuine cricket lovers. “The sad part is that a state-level, political battle will also be fought on the cricket field. We hope this political war does not ruin the game,” said an MCA member.