Calcutta, April 19: Mohun Bagan club is in a state of flux today, following the controversial sacking of coach Subrata Bhattacharya and the reported non payment of dues to certain senior players. There have been no boisterous protests, but one noticed a garland of protest danglers at the club Saturday, calling for the resignation of secretary Anjan Mitra and condemning the “undemocratic” sacking of Bhattacharya.
It is not a new situation for the club. Of late not many in the club have been able to agree on much anyway, with a number of court cases scattered around the lawns. There has been allegations of funds misuse, there has been modest protest against the “autocratic ways” of Mitra, and two groups or “protesters” sit in two sections of the lawn, each with non-specific agenda.
For Piyal Chowdhury of Members Guild of Mohun Bagan it is a piquant situation. Just the other day he was close to Mitra. Almost to the year now, the two fell out over what Chowdhury calls a manipulative attempt by Mitra and later the Guild was formed. “We started off with 41 members of the club, today we have signatures of 358,” says Chowdhury. That’s isn’t too impressive, though, considering that the club has no less than 7,000 members.
What do they want' They want elections — not that they didn’t notice this for 11 years that they were with Mitra, but they are honest enough to concede that they “were blinded with the power and the success.”
So what’s new' In fact, there seems to be nothing new in the demands, even from the Members’ Forum. That is a 20-year old non-formal association, they take pains to point out, mostly of senior members. They have been left out in the power struggle — — and now believe they have a just enough cause to protest. “The sacking has been undemocratic, and the club has been run on totally undemocratic lines and with scant respect to either ethics or the law/court.”
There are two problems, though. Not much can be said of the United Mohun Bagan Football Team Pvt. Ltd, that being a closely held company, and not much of accounting has been monitored (not allowed to, as Atin Sen points out) of the general receipts of the club (through membership and other such accruals).
Moreover, while the members are crying hoarse over the sacking, the coach himself still doesn’t show too much heartburn in the issue, except that “he (Mitra) must change the language used in which I was sacked.”
So where does that leave the seniors (who aren’t even sure how many members are officially with them), or the relatively junior Guild group'
Right where they started, it seems. The only difference is, as another senior member Anil Kumar Agarwal put it, “people are noticing it now.”
Maybe, but the anomalies (and there are many), have been rather noticeable for quite some time now. Maybe there is a genuine need to protest. But who’s the master of ceremonies' Not Bhattacharya for sure. “The situation in the club is such that we could see shots being fired any time there. Is that a proper atmosphere'” asks Bhattacharya.
So Bhattacharya is even willing to coach anywhere, out in the Maidan “third division, fourth division, anything.” “I have done it before,” he boasts, “while I coached FCI and the Police team.”
But at the helm of politics at the club' No, thank you.