With polls coming, Bengal parties play on Eden Gardens fiasco

January 30th, 2011 - 11:43 pm ICT by IANS  

Pranab Mukherjee Kolkata, Jan 30 (IANS) Ahead of the crucial state assembly elections, rival political parties in West Bengal have seized upon the Eden gardens fiasco to score brownie points over each other and woo the people who consider cricket their religion.The International Cricket Council (ICC) decision to strike off Eden Gardens as the venue for the important India-England World Cup match Feb 27 has kicked an unofficial competition among the political parties to ring up ICC president Sharad Pawar and request him to restore the match to the Eden.

West Bengal Chief Minister and politburo member of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee Saturday called up Pawar and urged him to reconsider the decision to shift the India-England World Cup match from the Eden Gardens, claimed state Urban Development Minister Ashok Bhattacharjee.

“Pawar called up the chief minister and told him that he is ready to give the CAB (Cricket Association of Bengal) time till Feb 7 so that they can complete the pending work at the stadium. If they can do so, then he will try to get the match back to the Eden Gardens,” Ashok Bhattacharjee added.

He stressed that Pawar responded positively because it was the chief minister’s request.

The ICC struck off the Eden Gardens as the venue following the report from its inspection team that the stadium was not ready to host the match Feb 27.

The cricket World Cup is being hosted jointly by India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka from Feb 19 to April 2.

In the race to persuade the ICC to reconsider its decision, the CPI-M’s archrival Trinamool Congress was lagging behind.

“The ICC is an autonomous body. But keeping in mind the emotions of the people of Kolkata, we have already conversed with Sharad Pawar,” said Mukul Roy, senior Trinamool leader.

CAB chief Jagmohan Dalmiya had sought union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s intervention Saturday on the issue.

“Dalmiya has met me. I will speak to Sharad Pawar. I do not know much about sports. The problem, which has cropped up, has to be solved by those who understand sports,” Mukherjee told the media Sunday.

State Congress leader Pradip Bhattacharjee also spoke to the ICC president. He felt that Pawar was quite “flexible” on the issue.

State Public Works Department Minister Kshiti Goswami Sunday went to the Eden Gardens with a team of PWD engineers to help the beleaguered state cricket association complete its work within the deadline, responding to Dalmiya’s request for help.

“Dalmiya had requested me to help the CAB complete the pending work. I have assured him my full support,” said Goswami.

Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhuri, a political scientist, said: “Cricket is considered a religion in this country. Ahead of crucial assembly elections, it is not at all surprising that political parties jump to grab the opportunity as they try to do in the case of other religions or castes.”

According to Dipankar Dasgupta, an economist, “Bengalis are emotional about the Eden Gardens, so it is quite natural that political parties try to work up emotions ahead of the assembly elections.”

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