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CM asks Dalmiya to lay off
- Sports minister to tell CAB chief not to contest

Calcutta, June 19: Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today made the dramatic declaration that he wanted Jagmohan Dalmiya out of the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB).

A day after Prasun Mukherjee, the Calcutta police commissioner, announced he would contest for the post of CAB president, the chief minister said: “I called up sports minister Subhas Chakraborty this morning. I told him I don’t want Dalmiya to contest the CAB election. Subhas will meet him tomorrow and speak to him.

“I have also asked Sourav (Ganguly) to take responsibility.”

Bhattacharjee did not clarify what this “responsibility” meant. But the reading is that, if necessary, he might ask the former India captain to persuade Dalmiya, with whom Sourav has been known to be close, to opt out.

Chakraborty, who has in the past been against the idea of the government sticking its foot in the CAB door, appeared to have changed his mind.

“It is not for me to decide whether Dalmiya should contest this election. But if I were in his place, I would have stepped aside,” Chakraborty said in the Assembly.

Dalmiya would only say: “Let’s see what happens at the meeting with Subhasbabu.”

Chakraborty’s comment is also important because he is close to Jyoti Basu, who told The Telegraph yesterday that he didn’t think it was a good idea for the police commissioner to contest. Dalmiya’s relations with Basu have been known to be cordial.

It’s unusual for a chief minister to speak openly about such an issue, but relations between Bhattacharjee’s government and Dalmiya soured over the Calcutta leather complex project, where over 500 city tanneries had to relocate following a Supreme Court directive.

Dalmiya, whose firm ML Dalmiya and Company, was selected as promoters of the project by Jyoti Basu’s government, took 10 years to complete the work.

Midway, the promoter threatened to walk out on the ground that the government owed it Rs 8 crore for the effluent transportation system. It claimed this part was outside the contractual obligation and the government’s financial responsibility.

But the government and the tanneries argued that it came under the promoter’s scope of activity. At various times, Bhattacharjee had expressed his unhappiness at the slow pace of work and said the management of the complex should be handed to the leather industry.

Awarded under Basu’s regime, the contract also drew flak from the Comptroller and Auditor General, which said the government had allowed “benefits” worth Rs 30 crore to the promoter. These included land at discounted rates and other subsidies in addition to completing some of the work left unfinished by the promoter.

CAG also frowned on the selection procedure, observing that Dalmiya’s company met neither the technical nor the financial criteria for the project and that the government hadn’t followed global tender norms.

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