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Patel’s bypass may help Das Gupta at AGM
- Question mark over chief selector's continuation in post

Calcutta: A shade over two decades ago, somebody spread a nasty rumour — that Brijesh Patel had a heart problem. That, more than anything else, finished the flashy middleorder batsman’s chance of a comeback. This time, an all too real problem has effectively ended his run for the Board joint secretaryship.

In fact, according to The Telegraph’s sources, Brijesh may even have to give up the chief selector’s post — he will require time to recover from Monday’s bypass at the much-in-news Narayana Hrudayala in Bangalore and Team India’s commitments for the 2003-2004 season begin in just a fortnight.

“It’s too early to say anything... First, we will have to get a medical update,” is all that Board president Jagmohan Dalmiya was willing to say on the issue. A decision will have to be taken at the AGM, being held here on Saturday-Sunday.

Obviously, Brijesh won’t be attending the AGM. In any case, he is in hospital at a time when the lobbying for any office (in the Board) peaks. So, with Brijesh incapacitated, Mumbai’s Professor Ratnakar Shetty stands a healthy chance of becoming the next joint secretary. In this dramatically changed scenario, even Goutam Das Gupta — a late entrant — could see a distinct improvement in his own standing.

As was first reported in these columns (August 24), a race has been on for the joint secretary’s post — besides early starters Brijesh and Prof. Shetty, in contention then was C.K. Khanna. Soon enough, of course, Khanna began giving the impression he would back Brijesh. The very latest is that he has already called Prof. Shetty and “congratulated” him.

Interestingly, both Brijesh and Khanna ‘belong’ to the same camp: Dalmiya’s. Though Prof. Shetty is from the ‘opposition’, he has always had an excellent rapport with the Board president and must have bridged much of the gap between him and Mumbai supremo Sharad Pawar. Later, the names of Mohinder Pandove and Das Gupta began to do the rounds. While the former was “advised” to wait for the opportune moment, the latter let it be known he wouldn’t ever do anything to queer the pitch for Dalmiya.

Specifically, it meant Das Gupta wouldn’t press if the ‘camp’ decided to support Prof. Shetty against Brijesh. In recent days, after all, it did appear Dalmiya was tilting towards the Mumbaikar. However, though there’s talk about not having two office-bearers from one affiliate (the Cricket Association of Bengal), Das Gupta may have an enjoyable weekend if the Dalmiya campwallahs make an issue of Prof. Shetty being an outsider.

The Board is going to have a new joint secretary as incumbent Jyoti Bajpai is moving to the treasurer’s chair.

Actually, Brijesh’s illness seems to have hurt former secretary Niranjan Shah as well. Apparently, had a Prof. Shetty versus Brijesh contest been on (bringing about a split in the Dalmiya camp), Shah would have offered himself for the secretary’s office. Now, he will find it even more difficult to unseat S.K.Nair.

Everybody regards Shah as a fine administrator, but he lost 12-18 in last year’s AGM simply because he was Dr A.C.Muthiah’s candidate in 2001. That year, he knocked off Dalmiya loyalist Jaywant Lele 16-15. Group loyalties being such, few in the Board really forgive and forget.

Incidentally, according to confidant Sudhakar Rao, Brijesh is “stable,” but won’t be out of the ICCU till Thursday.

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