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No decision on BJP: Sourav

- State Cong chief pays cricketer ‘courtesy call’
Sourav Ganguly

Calcutta, Dec. 15: Sourav Ganguly today said he had not yet decided on the BJP’s offer to field him in the Lok Sabha polls next year.

“Yes, the BJP has given an offer to me to contest the next Lok Sabha polls. I met Varun Gandhi (the BJP national general secretary and party’s central minder for Bengal) in Delhi. But I have not given a thought to it. It’s a serious matter for me and I will have to ponder over it before taking a decision,” Sourav told The Telegraph over phone this afternoon.

It has emerged that Sourav had called on Varun Gandhi in New Delhi sometime in October.

“Varunji had offered Sourav our party’s nomination for the next year’s polls and we want him to be with us,” state BJP president Rahul Sinha said today.

“Our central leaders are in touch with Sourav and we are optimistic that things will shape up in the coming days,” he added.

Sourav’s comments came on a day state Congress president Pradip Bhattacharya met him at his residence.

Bhattacharya said: “This was purely a courtesy call. Though we did discuss politics, I did not give him any proposal to contest Lok Sabha polls on a Congress ticket.”

Sourav echoed Bhattacharya: “We did discuss politics. But Bhattacharya did not offer me any nomination for next year’s polls.”

Ganguly went on say that he had known Bhattacharya for quite a long time. “He (Bhattacharya) is in touch with me. He came to my residence when my father died. He also called me on my phone in November,” the former Team India captain said.

Bhattacharya was accompanied by PCC secretary Saumitra Roy.

Bhattacharya later said his meeting with Sourav was a “personal” one. “I know Ganguly for 16 years and we do keep in touch with each other. So, don’t read too much into our meeting,” he said.

Bhattacharya said he had phoned Sourav in November to enquire about his well-being.

Senior Congress leaders from Delhi made it clear that Ganguly is “most welcome if he wants to associate (himself) with the party, believing in its ideals”.

“Ganguly was an outstanding cricketer who is internationally known. So, if he wants to associate himself with our ideals, he is most welcome,” Congress Working Committee member and AICC general secretary Shakeel Ahmed said.

CPM leader Asok Bhattacharya claimed that Sourav had called him up today and conveyed his disinterest in politics.

“Sourav called me up and told me, ‘Asok kaku, what is this madness going on about my joining politics? I have no interest in joining any political party, whether it is the BJP, the Congress or the Left’,” Bhattacharya said. “Sourav told me that Pradip Bhattacharya was coming over to his house today and I told him to take it easy.”

The Trinamul Congress took a swipe. “Sourav’s importance would be lessened if he agrees to the Congress’s overtures to him, given the prevailing state of affairs in the party, particularly in Bengal,” state panchayat minister Subrata Mukherjee said.