Calcutta, July 30: Jagmohan Dalmiya has done what the Opposition in the state couldn’t do in the last two elections: beat a candidate handpicked by Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.
Tonight, he defeated the chief minister’s man ' the city’s commissioner of police, Prasun Mukherjee ' for the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) president’s post.
While the counting of votes was on for the four vice-presidents’ seats till well past midnight, Dalmiya nominees Saradindu Pal and Amitava Banerjee (joint-secretaries both) and treasurer Shiv Kumar Kalyani also got re-elected.
Dalmiya, who has already been in the chair for 14 years, won by just five votes (61-56), but he was up against the might of the government.
That Dalmiya was ahead in the lead-up, though not by much, had been reported by The Telegraph today.
While the loss may not mean much to Mukherjee, that outcome would have finished Dalmiya not only in the state but within the Board of Control for Cricket in India.
He is already isolated in the body he once headed and it’s an understatement that the developments were followed by as much interest in the Sharad Pawar camp as in certain addresses across the city.
Dalmiya acknowledged the significance when he told the media: “This win gives me a platform to set the record straight'.”
Whatever the flames fanned by aides, both Dalmiya and Mukherjee fought cleanly. Indeed, both were also dignified with a capital D after the verdict.
Dalmiya admonished an over-zealous supporter who began slogan-shouting as soon as the victor and the vanquished appeared before the media almost six hours after the AGM had begun, at 5.00 pm.
Then, in a nice gesture he said: “We will again work together from tomorrow. There is no bitterness involved'”
Mukherjee lived up to his image of a gentleman challenger and observed: “This election result is a victory for cricket' Dalmiya has won cleanly and fairly' I congratulate Dalmiya and his panel'.”
He added: “Maybe I’m going to be back next year, but Dalmiya has asked me to be back next week (at the CAB).”
Dalmiya’s support almost wholly came from a majority of the first and second division clubs, while the bulk of Mukherjee’s votes would have come from the districts and the institutional bodies.
Obviously, he picked up votes from the clubs as well.
Given that the commissioner was a candidate, the policemen went into overdrive with their bandobast.
Mukherjee would have been impressed even if he himself couldn’t impress a majority of the electorate.
There was, unfortunately, jostling and sloganeering when Mukherjee left the premises and the policemen had to push and shove to allow for his departure.
Incidentally, waiting to enter Eden Gardens amidst the chaos was Jharkhand State Cricket Association president and Dalmiya loyalist Amitabh Choudhary.
A couple of months ago, this senior IPS officer had thrashed somebody who aspires to be the Jharkhand chief minister.