I don’t contest election to lose: Dalmiya

July 28th, 2008 - 9:13 pm ICT by IANS  

By Sirshendu Panth
Kolkata, July 28 (IANS) History favours incumbent Prasun Mukherjee, but challenger Jagmohan Dalmiya is banking on an anti-establishment swing as the two battle it out in the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) presidential election here Tuesday. The battle-hardened Dalmiya, making a determined bid to come back into cricket administration after 19 months in the wilderness, is upbeat on the eve of the CAB Annual General Meeting.

The Mukherjee loyalists, who have been pitted against the Dalmiya-led dissident lobby for all the key posts, are referring to the CAB’s age-old tradition of the official panel sailing through every time.

With the court-appointed observer retired justice Santosh Phoujdar barring two representatives of the affiliate units from attending on technical grounds, there will be 119 voters in the AGM to be held at the Eden Gardens which houses the CAB.

“I don’t contest elections to lose. The voters have seen me work for years in the CAB, which is a second home to me. They know how Bengal cricket can benefit from my experience. And I think Bengal cricket now needs me in view of the low which it has touched,” Dalmiya told IANS Monday.

The Dalmiya group has campaigned on the issue of Bengal’s demotion to the plate division of the Ranji Trophy and the CAB’s inability to get a coach for the state team for the current season. That none of the clubs have so far got the “few lakhs” which the powers-that-be in the Association had promised them for holding the Indian Premier League matches at the Eden Garden, has also become a campaign plank for the dissidents.

The official panel, on the other hand, is harping on the need for a harmonious relationship with the country’s apex body the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) which, they say, would become a casualty if Dalmiya ascends the CAB throne.

Dalmiya, a former BCCI chief, is at loggerheads with the Sharad Pawar-led board which has filed a case for embezzlement and even banned him.

Mukherjee also claims his CAB stint has seen more transparency and democracy in functioning.

“Dalmiya used to consult only three or four close people, leaving others in the dark on vital decisions. But I have always tried to take everybody along. And the CAB members have also seen how I worked for improving of facilities at the Eden,” Mukherjee said.

However, in contrast to the high-voltage election that Dalmiya and Mukherjee fought two years back that saw even state chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee taking sides, the run-up to the coming polls has been rather drab.

Dalmiya, who had scraped through by five vote in 2006 despite Bhattacharjee’s support for Mukherjee, is hoping to put up a repeat performance to regain his hold on the CAB and a platform to get back into prominence.

And for super cop Mukherjee, who never quite dreamt of heading the CAB till he was handpicked by the chief minister for the assignment, it is a fight to salvage his honour and prove to his supporters and detractors alike that he can win on his own mettle without help from his governmental bosses.

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