Sourav Ganguly and minister Asok Bhattacharya at a programme. A Telegraph picture
Chief electoral officer Sunil Kumar Gupta on Thursday forwarded the Trinamul Congress’s complaint against Sourav Ganguly to the Election Commission headquarters in Delhi after the former Team India skipper expressed his “concern” over his name being dragged into a controversy.
“We did not find any evidence of Shri Ganguly’s participation in any political campaign…. We have sent the complaint and all the evidence, along with our views, to the commission for a final decision,” said Gupta. “Shri Ganguly expressed his concern for his good offices being dragged into a controversy.”
Trinamul had on Wednesday dubbed Sourav “a known CPM sympathiser” and questioned the poll panel’s decision to select him as an “apolitcal icon” for a campaign to raise voters’ awareness before the Assembly elections.
Trinamul’s complaint to the commission was accompanied by a CD which the party said contained footage of urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya saying at a CPM rally in Siliguri on Monday that he would ask Sourav to campaign for the Left Front.
The CD also reportedly contained footage of various events where Sourav had shared the dais with Bhattacharya and chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.
The chief electoral officer said on Thursday Sourav had “strongly denied” any involvement with any political party and “stated in unequivocal terms” that whatever he did was as a “cricketer and in furtherance of the cause of the game in the country”.
Minister Bhattacharya, too, has rubbished Trinamul’s charges as “baseless, unethical and distasteful”.
Senior officials at the commission headquarters said the panel was likely to put its “seal of approval on Sourav’s apolitical credentials” and release the campaign in its original form.
“We had approved the decision to pick Sourav after careful consideration and found nothing to suggest that he is close to any party. He had also assured us that he would not campaign for any party,” said a member of the team in Delhi that will look into Trinamul’s allegations.
Gupta said Sourav and percussionist Bickram Ghosh had “voluntarily participated” in the campaign encouraging people to vote without fear or favour.
“We are thankful to them for their contribution to the national cause.”