Sports minister Madan Mitra at the function
Calcutta: The state government’s gesture to felicitate world champion Viswanathan Anand was good. But the way the function was organised, on Thursday, at the Khudiram Anushilan Kendra, it surely left a lot to be desired.
There was pandemonium all around and nobody had an idea about what was happening.
Sample this. Noted singer Sriradha Bandhopadhyay just finished a Rabindra Sangeet when senior cabinet minister Partha Chatterjee walked into the auditorium. Bandhopadhyay was promptly asked to take a break. “I would request you to take a break. Respected Partha Chatterjee is here and I will ask the audience to give a big round of applause,” Mitra announced.
Unfortunately, Bandhopadhyay never got a chance to sing another song. She kept waiting till she left the dais.
Then, there was an announcement that a popular band will be taking the stage. But that never happened as Anand was hurried onto the adjacent media room of the Netaji Indoor Stadium!
Anand did not complain. He smiled, shook hands with whoever wanted to have a feel of the champion and indulgently obliged young chess players who pestered for an autograph. “Calcutta has a special place in my heart… It’s one of the few places where accomplishments are recognised and not just celebrities,” Anand said.
“One of my seconds also is from this city. S. Ganguly! And you thought there is just one sport where we have S. Ganguly!” he said as the audience broke into a wild cheer. Well, Anand was talking about Grandmaster Surya Sekhar Ganguly who had a seat beside the world champion.
The dais was packed with ministers, Olympians and chess players. Subrata Mukherjee, Partha Chaterjee, Arup Biswas, Arup Roy were the ministers present. MIC Debashish Kumar and Member of Parliament Subrata Bakshi were also there. Among the sportspersons, P.K. Banerjee, Chuni Goswami, Sukumar Samajpati, Shyam Thapa, Gurbux Singh, Saheli Dhar Barua, Dola Banerjee, Soma Biswas, Mary Ann Gomes and Nisha Mohota were present.
Anand was given a cheque of Rs 5 lakh by the state government, a gold-plated chess board and a ‘pitcher’ full of rosogullas and a chess board made of sweets. There were gold chains for wife Aruna (Anand revealed that she took ill after touching down) and son Akhil.
Incidentally, the loudest cheer came when a top East Bengal official presented Anand with a red and gold scarf.