The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Subhas bowls, party no-balls

Calcutta, Jan. 16: Subhas Chakraborty today took his “cricket politics” game to the next logical level, saying he would contest the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) election unless a consensus choice replaces Prasun Mukherjee, the police chief running for president.

However, hours later, CPM state secretary Biman Bose disclosed that he had asked the sports minister not to contest.

“When Subhas asked me over phone if he could contest the CAB president’s post, I said no,” Bose said in Calcutta. Chakraborty is in Bangalore.

The Maidan had been abuzz with speculation that Chakraborty would contest the February 1 election to queer the pitch for Mukherjee, who had lost to Jagmohan Dalmiya last year when the police commissioner was chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s candidate.

The sports minister is considered close to Dalmiya, who stepped down as CAB president after a BCCI expulsion.

Bose also made some critical comments about the city police’s failure to foresee “law-and-order problems”, which were seized by the Chakraborty camp as an expression of disapproval of Mukherjee’s candidature.

Such a rebuke would be seen as a victory for Chakraborty, whose primary objective still seems to be thwarting Mukherjee and helping the Dalmiya camp rather than occupying the hot seat. But sources said the chances of the party exerting pressure on Mukherjee are remote.

Asked if he would contest despite Bose’s advice, Chakraborty said: “It’s true that Bimanda did not give me the go-ahead. But I am confident that I will be able to convince him that I should contest. I shall once again talk to him. After all, nobody will accept that Mukherjee is a better candidate than me.”

“I believe I will get the chief minister’s blessings also,” he added. Unlike last time, Bhattacharjee has not associated himself with this election.

But Chakraborty added that “if somebody other than Mukherjee is chosen as a unanimous candidate, I will not contest”.

He had spoken to mentor Jyoti Basu and Somnath Chatterjee, the minister said. “Mine is a calculated decision to register my protest against the manner in which Sourav Ganguly was insulted.”

Basu’s close aide said Chakraborty had phoned him this morning. Basu apparently asked him to speak to Bose, if he is “intent on contesting”.

Maidan veteran B.N. Dutt, whose name keeps cropping up as a possible consensus nominee, said he was unhappy. “I would always like to have people who are directly involved to run the association,” he said.

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