Calcutta, July 29: By tomorrow evening, either Jagmohan Dalmiya or Prasun Mukherjee will be crowned winner depending on which of them gets the 60 votes needed to become Cricket Association of Bengal president.
But the bruising battle has already thrown up two losers ' Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Sourav Ganguly.
An opinion poll conducted by MODE for The Telegraph found that 67 per cent of the respondents want Dalmiya back in his first-floor chamber at CAB.
“Dalmiya has done a lot for cricket in Bengal and I have reasons to support him. Besides, I think the police chief has other important responsibilities and duties than cricket administration,” said Sugata Nandi, a retired marine engineer.
But disapproval of the chief minister’s role was louder. As many as 75 per cent of the 200 Calcuttans of various age groups interviewed this week said they did not support Bhattacharjee’s involvement in the elections to one of the country’s richest cricket associations.
The chief minister had made no secret of his efforts to keep Dalmiya out of the contest, putting sports minister Subhas Chakraborty on the job and publicly backing police commissioner Prasun Mukherjee’s candidature.
“What business do politicians have to interfere in the affairs of an autonomous body'” asked Stuti Agarwal, a St Xavier’s College student.
“I was really surprised to see politicians fighting over CAB elections. Even the chief minister got involved'. It shouldn’t have happened,” echoed Probir Chakraborty, a businessman.
Chakraborty, a staunch Sourav supporter, also feels let down by the former captain. “Everyone knows what Dalmiya has done for Sourav. How could Sourav do something like this to his mentor'” he asked, referring to the email the cricketer sent in support of Mukherjee.
Over 56 per cent felt Sourav had been “ungrateful” in sending the email.
But the biggest blow to Sourav, for whose return to the team Bengal had moved heaven and earth and Parliament, would be the revelation that 45 per cent of the people polled don’t want him back any more. Fifty-five per cent still do ' Inam Hussain Mullick, a Jadavpur University student, says “he should definitely be back in the team. He is a good cricketer, and the most successful captain India has had” ' but for Bengal’s favourite son, victory by such a poor margin is as good as defeat.