Dalmiya extends ‘hand of friendship’ to Indian cricket board

July 30th, 2008 - 2:02 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, July 30 (IANS) After his team’s clean sweep in the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) elections, president Jagmohan Dalmiya has extended the “hand of friendship” to his detractors ruling the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), saying the affiliate unit should not be made to suffer for personal rivalry. “There is a lot of apprehension about CAB’s relations with BCCI, now that I am back. There are two types of issues - collective and personal. Collectively, we want to tell the board please don’t let the CAB suffer. I will extend my hand of friendship to the board,” Dalmiya told a large gathering of media persons at the Eden Gardens late Tuesday night.

It was a mad scamble on the ground floor of the Eden Gardens Club House as electronic media cameramen and photographers jostled to get vantage points as Dalmiya climbed down from the second floor after his resounding 24-vote victory over incumbent Prasun Mukherjee. Dalmiya got 71 votes, while only 47 CAB members voted for Mukherjee whose 17-month stint came to an end.

Mukherjee had become the unanimous CAB president in Februrary last year after Dalmiya put in his papers in December 2006, following the ban order slapped on him by the Sharad Pawar-led BCCI.

Dalmiya kept his all-win record in CAB intact. It was also the first time that every member of the panel arrayed aghainst him lost the election.

Amidst garlanding and loud slogan-shouting by his admirers, a visibly emotional but smiling Dalmiya said he would sit with his team of office bearers and announce his plans and programmes within seven days.

Dalmiya, often accused of being a dictator in managing cricket bodies, sought to dispel the notion by repeatedly referring to his team of winning candidates and supporters while responding to several questions on his agenda as CAB president.

The only time the seasoned cricket administrator seemed his old aggressive self was when a scribe asked him whether the BCCI could now try to create trouble for him by taking legal measures. “Would they have kept quiet (in the run-up to the elections) if they had any such options?” Dalmiya shot back.

Dalmiya’s entire panel sailed through the elections, with his loyalists Biswarup Dey and Arun Mitra upstaging sitting joint secretaries and firm Mukherjee loyalists Samar Pal and Amitava Banerjee.

Dey, who led Dalmiya’s battle in the CAB all these months when the veteran was busy fighting his legal battles with the BCCI, got a whopping 75 votes, while Mitra bagged 62.

Bablu Ganguly was elected the new treasurer, humbling incumbent Tushar Sarkar by a huge margin.

Dalmiya-backed candidates also had cakewalk victories in the contest for the vice presidential posts.

With the Dalmiya group having made the CAB affiliates’ discontent over ticket distribution for the Indian Premier League (IPL) matches at the Eden Gardens a major campaign issue, there was a poser on holding the league matches in the next season.

The 68-year-old new president said: “IPL has been an amazing success. I don’t think anybody is against IPL. But we want to run it properly and systematically.”

The IPL is the brainchild of BCCI vice president Lalit Modi, perhaps Dalmiya’s bitterest rival in the board.

Asked to compare his victory over Mukherjee Monday with the one in 2006, Dalmiya said: “The earlier one was for power. This one is for cricket”.

Despite being backed by West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, Mukherjee lost by five votes to Dalmiya two years back.

Dalmiya parried a query on cricketer Sourav Ganguly’s stand in the run-up to the CAB election. “Please think positive. This is a non-issue, a dead issue”.

In a covert expression of support for the Mukherjee group, Ganguly had threatened to quit playing for Bengal if some Dalmiya associates did not stop attacking his family, especially his elder brother Snehasish - the CAB assistant secretary during the previous regime.

Dalmiya, however, said he would seek Ganguly’s advice on cricketing matters. “Why shouldn’t I? He is after all the former skipper of the Indian team.”

Responding to a question about the 19 months he was in the wilderness fighting court cases, arrests and corruption allegations, Dalmiya said: “I had two options. Either I could withdraw from cricket administration as a tainted man, or I could fight. I chose the latter path.”

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