The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Basu delivery in cricket poll
Total votes: 121
Majority mark: 61
Prasun camp: 90
Dalmiya camp: 75-80
Prasun camp: 70
Dalmiya camp: 51
*As on Wednesday evening

Calcutta, Jan. 17: A day after CPM state secretary Biman Bose said Subhas Chakraborty should not fight the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) election, former chief minister Jyoti Basu said the sports minister can contest “if he wants to”.

“This is a personal matter. He (Chakraborty) can contest if he wants to,” said Basu, considered Chakraborty’s mentor. “I don’t think Subhas’s contest would amount to anti-party activity.”

Basu’s comments came on a day police commissioner Prasun Mukherjee’s nomination papers for CAB president were filed.

Chakraborty’s declared intent to contest the election is being seen as an attempt to force the retreat of Mukherjee, who is being perceived as the chief minister’s candidate though Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has not made any pro-active intervention on the officer’s behalf this time.

Chakraborty today insisted that he would convince Bose and contest the election. He sought to garner the CPM’s support by adding that “there is no reason why I should get into a confrontation with the party on this”.

“People, especially the media, are trying to project this as a chief minister-versus-me affair. But this is not true. I took the decision to stand for the elections only when I came to know that the chief minister was not involved in this at all,” he said.

Yesterday, Basu had said Chakraborty had spoken to him about contesting the polls and that he had asked him to discuss the matter with Bose. Basu’s latest statement indicates that differences exist within the party on the issue.

However, party insiders said the import of Basu’s statement lies in the fact that he does not want the party to get into a controversy. They point out that even during the last CAB president’s poll, Basu was against the chief minister getting involved.

Basu may be advocating the same hands-off policy now also as the party insiders suggest, but in public perception, it will be seen as a statement in support of Chakraborty.

In Bangalore, Chakraborty said the party’s nod is not required to contest the CAB polls.

“Many leaders of the CPM are involved in sports bodies and they were not asked to take the party’s permission. For 50 years, even I have been a part of many sports organisations, and no permission was required for this.”

The leadership is in a dilemma as the party constitution does not say that members will have to obtain permission to fight elections in forums like sports organisations.

Mukherjee said the papers were submitted after clearance from the Centre as IPS regulations require.

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