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Sourav bats for Siliguri's 'benefactor'

Siliguri, Feb. 22: Sourav Ganguly may be struggling to regain his place in the Indian team, but that does not seem to have diminished his popularity in these parts in any way.

Thousands of people flocked the venues that the former cricket captain went to during his whirlwind tour of the town today. Here at the invitation of 'family relation' and urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya, Ganguly attended as many as five programmes ' beginning with an interaction with schoolchildren at Bagdogra and ending with the foundation laying ceremony for a health centre at Deshbandhupara.

'Every time I come to Siliguri, I am showered with so much love and affection. I hope the people from here do well in various fields, not just games...I have a family relationship with Asok babu, who has been doing so much for the development of Siliguri,' said Ganguly at the programme in Pradhannagar, which was overflowing with people, especially schoolchildren.

Ganguly also sought to make light of the murmurs that he was effectively campaigning for Bhattacharya, who is the CPM candidate for the Siliguri seat in the coming Assembly elections. 'Let people say what they want,' Ganguly told reporters after inaugurating the new building of Siliguri Boys' High School and laying the foundation stone for a flyover between Katchari Road and Meghdoot Cinema on Hill Cart Road here.

The 'Prince of Calcutta' said he was still hopeful of finding a berth in the Indian team for the Test series against England, beginning in Nagpur from March 1. The selection committee of the Board of Control for Cricket in India is scheduled to announce the team tomorrow.

The urban development minister also sounded confident regarding Ganguly's future. 'We hope to see the return of Sourav to the Indian team,' he said. Bhattacharya, a keen cricket follower, had chosen not to attend a recent Test match at the Eden Gardens in Calcutta after Ganguly was not picked.

Wearing a check shirt and black trousers, the bespectacled former skipper seemed fairly relaxed during his short stay here. He accepted bouquets and signed autographs for his fans at different venues.

Ganguly had arrived in the afternoon on a flight from Calcutta, but took an overnight train back.

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