The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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I'm just an observer: Jaitley
- Opt-out came when Cong went for 'ambush tactics'

Calcutta: Arun Jaitley has never quite fit the stereotype. Indeed, if somebody actually had a doubt, his decision to opt out of the scramble for the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president's chair must have cleared that.

The loss, of course, is the BCCI's.

Jaitley, in the city for a most talked about AGM, declined to speak at length ' 'I'm on the sidelines... Just an observer, please...' ' but a confidant of the former Union minister did interact with The Telegraph on Tuesday.

According to the confidant, Jaitley (who heads the Delhi unit) chose not to offer himself as a candidate when he learnt the Congress was unleashing 'ambush tactics' to keep him out.

The top beneficiary, as of now, is going to be Ranbir Singh Mahendra.

'Word spread that Arun Jaitley had to be stopped... At all costs, apparently, and chief ministers were called and asked to ensure a state minister attended the AGM and not somebody from the association,' the confidant said.

The confidant added: 'It's not that Jaitley couldn't have fought, but the battle would have been messy and, eventually, the BCCI may have suffered. Also, he already has enough (BJP) party portfolios to handle.'

Jaitley, the confidant informed, has taken the developments sportingly and isn't at all bitter: 'He is very passionate about the game and, really, doesn't need a cricket post to be in the news... In fact, he is happy quietly doing his part.

'Not many, perhaps, know Jaitley played a significant hand (as a high profile minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government) in reviving ties with Pakistan...'

Incidentally, Pawar lieutenant Praful Patel, a Union minister himself, met Jaitley in the morning and the latter then paid Pawar a visit in his suite at Taj Bengal.

Even the confidant wasn't able to reveal what transpired, but Jaitley could have advised that somebody with Prime Ministerial ambitions should avoid an election where success isn't guaranteed.

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