The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sourav shadow on debate

New Delhi, Dec. 22: The subject of today’s discussion in the Lok Sabha was ostensibly the state of Indian sport. But the name that played on most minds was that of Sourav Ganguly.

After an uproar sparked by the controversial sacking of the former skipper from the team, Speaker Somnath Chatterjee had last week agreed to discuss the matter. Later, however, he clarified that the discussion would be on sport in general and not about Sourav.

Out of the team he may be, but the cricketer could not be kept out of the House as at least two MPs ' the CPM’s Jyotirmoyee Sikdar and Subroto Bose ' spoke about Sourav’s exclusion after the Delhi Test against Sri Lanka.

“Injustice has been done towards Ganguly. He should have been allowed to play the next game. This happened in cricket, so the world came to know about it. Such things keep happening in every other game when deserving talented sportspersons are not selected,” said athlete-turned-MP Sikdar.

She added that the heads of sports federations and associations are usually picked taking into account considerations that have nothing to do with sport.

Bose, who had led the Indian team at the Davis Cup tournament in 1969, asked whether the composition of the Sharad Pawar-headed Board of Control for Cricket in India was good for the game.

With the discussion on sport veering towards the politics of cricket, Tathagata Satpathy of the BJD sought to raise the Jagmohan Dalmiya-Pawar power play in the BCCI. But Chatterjee put his foot down.

Suresh Prabhu of the Shiv Sena then gave the debate a different turn. He said Sourav’s exclusion had triggered a furore and has come to be regarded as a “national crisis”, but games other than cricket are largely ignored.

The Speaker’s intervention saw to it that barring stray references to Sourav, today’s discussion focused on sport. “Let me make it clear that I had not admitted any notice or motion to discuss the omission of any player from any team whatsoever,” he said at the start of the debate.

Chatterjee took a dig at editorials and media reports advising “the Speaker what to do and what not to do”. After admitting the motion, he said: “Some well-meaning but misinformed friends have been advising me that I had done something improper.”

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