|Dalmiya (top) and Mukherjee at Eden Gardens. Pictures by Santosh Ghosh
Calcutta, July 27: Betrayers will decide who wins Sunday’s election for the president’s post in the Cricket Association of Bengal.
Both the Jagmohan Dalmiya (the incumbent) and the Prasun Mukherjee (the Calcutta police commissioner) camps are claiming the support of around 70 of the 121 members ' the total strength is now down to 119 because of two disqualifications.
The two votes were supposed to be in Mukherjee’s favour.
Dalmiya’s campaign managers had earlier written off 26 votes ' 18 districts and eight universities. But, after the voters’ list was made public today, the group feels that nine of the districts would vote for Dalmiya. Similarly, it is banking on four votes from the universities since the representatives from half of the eight have not changed from the last election.
Mukherjee’s supporters say they are confident of getting past the 60 votes required for majority in a depleted electorate of 119. They claim to have received “commitments” from 71 clubs/institutions.
With either side claiming commitments of support from around 70 members, those that will not keep their word will decide who wins.
The police chief’s campaign managers acknowledge that not all that had committed support for Mukherjee would finally vote for him. But they are certain that the number of betrayals would be so small that it would not make a difference to the outcome.
“There may be a few who have told us that they will vote for us for fear of not annoying us,” one of them said. The “us” should be read as the police force.
“That possibility cannot be ruled out. But our assessment is that the number will not make a difference.”
One source said: “There are people who are lying to Dalmiya and there are people who are lying to us.”
Ironically, the Dalmiya side is also pinning its hopes on the possibility that not all “commitments” will be kept. For instance, it believes that since the winner will be chosen through a secret ballot, not all representatives ' the districts and the universities ' will toe the govern-ment line.
Some observers, however, see a flaw in that argument. District magistrates are the ex-officio chairmen of the district sports associations.
The government has informally told all DMs to authorise officials who would cast their votes for the “unanimous” candidate, Mukherjee. It’s hard to believe the DMs would not follow the instruction, the observers say.
If this line of argument proves correct, the Dalmiya side’s expectation of nine votes from the districts and four from the universities, whose authorities have been given similar instructions by the government, is unlikely to come good.
Where every vote counts, the ruling group sees it as a positive sign that Sambaran Banerjee, the former Ranji captain and national selector who has been spearheading the oust-Dalmiya campaign, is not among the voters.
If the challengers were sure of their numbers, they could have got their most vocal supporter nominated as a voter, the Dalmiya camp said.
Buoyant and upbeat, the rival side said the “Sourav Ganguly” factor had clinched the issue in favour of the police chief.
“If there was any doubt, Sourav’s email settled it,” one of them said.