The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Pass missed, Subhas miffed
- Sports minister wanted 400 free seats. He got 100. So, a boycott of the Sania show...

He wanted 400 VIP passes. He was given 100. Reason enough for the sports minister to boycott the biggest tennis tournament in town.

Like a petulant child denied his toy, sports minister Subhas Chakraborty ranted and railed for not being given enough free tickets to the tournament starring Sania Mirza.

At Writers' Buildings on Tuesday morning, talk turned from the transport strike ' that he had expressed open support for ' to the tennis tournament ' that he had decided to boycott.

The minister blasted Mahesh Bhupathi's company Globosport for sending him just 100 VIP passes, against the 400 that had been agreed upon.

'I am not a sadhu to be detached about these developments' I refused to take the passes they sent me,' said Chakraborty, when asked why he was absent at Monday's inauguration, where chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had a field evening.

'It is a norm that the sports department should get passes for all 1,500 VIP seats, that are not for sale,' continued Chakraborty. 'In this case, I had asked my department officials to let Globosport take 1,100 passes and keep 400 for us.'

When only 100 landed up, the mercurial minister saw red.

Late on Tuesday, Anirban Das Blah, vice-president, Globosport, told Metro: 'We are dealing directly with the chief minister. We have been asked to allocate 1,000 passes for the government. How they are distributed among the departments is not our lookout.'

But Chakraborty was not the only miffed minister off the Sunfeast Open court.

Urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya, normally in the forefront of every sporting event, was conspicuous by his absence on Monday evening.

Asked about his no-show, Bhattacharya said: 'It's not as if I boycotted the event. I made a quick round of the stadium around 7 pm.'

The chief minister was in no mood to play headmaster to his colleagues' off-court antics. 'Please ask them why they didn't turn up,' Bhattacharjee said on Tuesday.

He was more candid about his on-court showdown with Bhupathi. 'That was just a dwarf pitted against a giant,' smiled the chief minister.

Chakraborty was anything but smiling as he rattled off names of high court judges, foreign consuls and other VIPs who had requested him for passes and to whom he had given a 'commitment'.

And he did find a few backers, as far as ticket distribution was concerned. Bengal Tennis Association secretary Hironmoy Chatterjee said: 'At least 6,000 people should have been present for the opening of such a tournament, but there were hardly a few hundred.'

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