Calcutta: Arup Bhattacharya has emerged as the most envied state-level (former) cricketer in Ms Mamata Banerjee’s regime. All for his political connections that is.
Indeed, according to well-placed sources of The Telegraph, urban development and municipal affairs minister Firhad Hakim isn’t alone in lobbying for Arup, a brother-in-law of his, to succeed Raja Venkat as the national selector from East.
“Arup has been playing his cards exceedingly well and the message sent out to Jagmohan Dalmiya has come from the very top... A Union minister has also got into the act, throwing his weight behind the former left-arm spinner,” one of the well-placed sources pointed out.
Dalmiya heads the Cricket Association of Bengal and remains the tallest figure in the East, even though the Board’s office-bearers now have the maximum say in the national selectors’ appointment.
Strictly technically, the zones don’t come into the picture. However, that’s not how things actually get done.
Raja’s four-year term gets over this month and, so, East will have a new man. Logically, Bengal’s chief selector, former India ’keeper Deep Dasgupta, should be elevated. Another former India player, Devang Gandhi, is available as well.
Both Deep and Devang have been accomplished cricketers and enjoy a clean image, which is essential in an era of scams, in sport and elsewhere.
Of course, some in the Board could have reservations over Deep, as he’s employed by Sahara. Ideally, it shouldn’t be an issue.
Hakim, seen as a “rising star” in the Trinamul, has gone on record to argue that Arup has played “more matches” than Raja.
The minister is correct, as Arup is ahead 48 to 41. But if that’s to be the yardstick, then Assam may pitch for Rajesh Borah, who has played even more first-class matches (66)!
Moreover, what’s there to stop Orissa from making a strong case for Debashish Mohanty, who has played for India?
“The pressure on Dalmiya is immense... He will have to ‘propose’ Arup, but he’s not obliged to put forward one name only... East’s affiliates are meeting in Mumbai on September 26, a day before the Board’s AGM, and they could favour two being ‘proposed’ to the Board’s brass,” another of the well-placed sources said.
Dalmiya, it may be recalled, stood up to Mamata’s predecessor, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. That was in 2006. It’s to be seen what he does if the pressure from the Trinamul increases over the next 10 days.
For the record, nowadays, the national selectors are paid handsomely — Rs 40 lakh annually. Their honorary status ended in 2008.