The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Any business ideas, skipper'

Calcutta, July 17: His business is with the bat. Now he’ll bat for Bengal’s business.

Indian cricket captain Sourav Ganguly padded up for a new partnership on a different pitch this evening as he spent over an hour at the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation, learning about Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s resurgent Bengal.

“Our colleague Asok Bhattacharya informed us that Sourav wanted to know about the state’s industrial initiatives and so we organised this meeting,” corporation chairman Somnath Chatterjee said.

Almost all the top officials — led by secretary Sabyasachi Sen — of the commerce and industries ministry and the entire corporation board were present at the conference room to give Sourav an account of where Bengal stands today. The state government’s nodal industrial agency did not miss the chance to present a silver memento to the city’s favourite son for his “outstanding achievements”.

Scheduled to start at 5.30 pm, the meeting kicked off well after 6 with a short introduction by Chatterjee. Sourav, in a pink shirt and khaki flat-front trousers, was all smiles as he entered the corporation premises, escorted by Bhattacharya.

The captain walked up to the model of Mani Kanchan, a gems and jewellery park coming up in Salt Lake, before being sent scurrying into the conference room by whirring shutters and a barrage of questions.

From IT opportunities to the industrial scenario in Bengal, the skipper sat through four presentations by corporation officials. He also took part in the interaction that followed the video films and laptop presentations with high tea served by Bijoli Grill, which took over the corporation canteen to cater to Sourav.

The skipper’s “natural” interest in business — Chatterjee mentioned Sourav’s and his in-laws’ were industrial families — came out clearly during the meeting. “He came up with lots of questions and talked about the image problem of the state,” said a state official who was present at the closed-door meeting. While the corporation officials were presenting the positives of the state, he wanted to know how much investment had come in over the last few years.

The skipper came up with suggestions, too. He said Chatterjee and his team should go in for a fresh round of “media management”, implying the need to create a brand.

Though the skipper ducked questions on whether he was adopting the role of “Bengal’s brand ambassador”, the government’s desire to rope in the cricketer to sell the state was evident. “He is a famous man from this state,” Chatterjee said. “And like all of us, he is also concerned about Bengal. We briefed him about what we are doing for the state.”

Sourav’s expression of solidarity with the state doesn’t seem a one-off affair. “Ami aapnake pore phone korbo (I will call you later),” were his parting words before he dashed off for a recording session at All India Radio.

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