Kolkata: Former India captain Sourav Ganguly was on Thursday appointed the president of the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB), ending the suspense on who will take over the state cricket body following the death of Jagmohan Dalmiya.
The announcement of Ganguly was made by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in presence of senior CAB officials and state government ministers at the state secretariat building.
Sourav Ganguly. Pic/AFP
In another major development, Dalmiya's son Avishek was inducted as one of the two joint secretaries replacing the current incumbent Ganguly. Subir Ganguly will continue as the other joint secretary while Biswarup Dey will continue as treasurer.
While the Chief Minister officially made it clear that it was a decision taken by the CAB officials and she was there to support their bid to take the game of cricket in the state forward, it was apparent that it took government interference to annoint Ganguly in place of the late Dalmiya.
"We are going through a big crisis after his (Dalmiya) unfortunate death. Someone has to head CAB. Dalmiya loved cricket so much. So it's important that the people closed to him (should run the show)... cricket family is most important. My only request to all of you that be together, remain united and take the Jaguda's legacy forward," CM Banerjee said with interim sports minister Arup Biswas by her side.
While some CAB officials had to depend on the interference of the ruling party, the CM clarified that it was a decision taken by the officials themselves.
"It's not fair for me to interfere. I just want them to do well, I'm there with them like a deputy or colleague. It's what they have decided together," Banerjee said.
"I should not be announcing this but since all of them are requesting I feel that as someone (Sourav Ganguly) who had led India so many years should now take charge of the role and they should form the set up with Abhishek, Subir, Biswarup and all other senior members," she said.
The 43-year-old Ganguly on his part said, "Anything in life is a new challenge. I am particularly happy that Avishek is coming into administration as it is a very emotional time for him. Myself, Biswarup, Subir would all work together and there won't be any problems. We have 117 (actually 121) members and we will decide the way forward."
While Dalmiya Junior, with no experience in sports administrative was the biggest gainer in this whole episode, the two big losers were treasurer Dey and senior joint secretary Subir, who were harbouring aspirations of going into an election, the option of which ended today after CM's intervention.
Knowing fully well that the announcement at the State Secretariat could invite criticism, Banerjee repeatedly stressed that it should be controversy free.
"Please don't involve the state government here. I am nobody. It's what they decided. Please don't bring any controversy here. It's their decision as they all are cricket lovers," the Chief Minister said.
Banerjee said that after Dalmiya's demise, the CAB needed a guardian and hence these decisions have been taken till the association's elections in July, 2016.
"After Jaguda's death, CAB is without a head now and they have decided that Sourav will become the president and in his place Avishek will become the joint secretary till the next elections in July," Banerjee added.
Ganguly on his part seconded Chief Minister's view. "Like she said, it is not her decision. She had spoken to the members. For me this is not everything. I will do whatever I can, whatever they want me to do. Will take over immediately as we have a game on October 8. These are big shoes to fill," the 'Prince of Calcutta' said.
Avishek said, "She (Banerjee) has been very supportive whenever there's been any crisis in cricket in Bengal. My dad also had found her always by his side when he faced a problem.
"She has asked that the Bengal cricket fraternity should be together for betterment of the sport in this state. We communicated to her whatever we had in our minds and she has been very supportive."
Treasurer Dey, who lost a lot of ground today said,"Someone has to take over and Sourav will take over as CAB president. As per our constitution, we have to elect someone in a Special General Body meeting within 60 days and accordingly we will give a notice 14 days prior to the SGM."
"Jagnohan Dalmiya was like a jewel in world cricket and it's an emotional moment for all of us that his son Avishek is becoming the new joint secretary. Till Dalmiya was alive, he didn't bring his son to cricket arena but we all together coaxed him to come in. We all believe that Dalmiya's soul would be happy to see this."
"The way our CM brought all of us together in this crisis, it's a great sign for Bengal cricket. She also wanted to have a Jagmohan Dalmiya Memorial Cricket Academy. She wants it to be the best in the country and he will speak to us about it in the coming days. Personally I'm overwhelmed the way she has brought all of us together," Dey tried to put up a brave front despite his morale being totally crushed.
Another joint secretary Subir Ganguly said, "We all are really happy and more so because we could bring Avishek to the cab cricket administration."