|"Subhas agreed not to contest... without any fuss" Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee
Calcutta, Jan. 23: Subhas Chakraborty today blinked in the battle to run for Bengal cricket association president, agreeing to step aside on twin requests from Jyoti Basu and Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.
The sports minister’s retreat — inevitable after the CPM issued a formal statement on Friday denying him permission to contest — comes a day before tomorrow’s 5.30 pm deadline to file nomination for the February 1 poll expires.
Chakraborty is believed to have made up his mind after Basu called him up last night.
But the final seal was put this morning after a meeting with the chief minister and CPM state secretary Biman Bose at Alimuddin Street.
“Subhas agreed not to contest the Cricket Association of Bengal poll without any fuss when I told him that it won’t be right for him. I think he realises the issue,” Bhattacharjee said.
The chief minister, who had so far kept mum on the CAB poll, said the talks were held in a very congenial environment. But he declined comment on whether police chief Prasun Mukherjee would remain in the fray.
“I’ve said what I wanted to say,” he said, refusing to disclose if Chakraborty had objected to Mukherjee’s candidature.
Following Chakraborty’s retreat, the Jagmohan Dalmiya camp began considering the names of some former cricketers to fight Mukherjee but could not reach a decision till late tonight.
Chakraborty confirmed that Basu was behind his pullout. “I regard Jyotibabu as my leader and when he requested me last night over the phone, I made up my mind,” he told reporters at his Salt Lake home.
He recounted that Basu had had to give up the Prime Minister’s post in 1996 when the party did not back him. “After all, I am also a disciplined party man.”
Chakraborty also gave due respect to Bhattacharjee. “The chief minister requested me this morning that I should stay away from the CAB poll. His request is almost an order for me and I must abide by it.”
He said he had insisted on contesting since others in the CAB did not have the “guts” to fight Mukherjee. “I still stick to my opinion that a city police chief should not meddle in CAB polls since he has a greater responsibility to oversee law and order.”
A Front leader said Chakraborty’s pullout was a “political necessity”. “Subhas is left with no option…. He has simply got a face-saver… after requests from Basu and Bhattacharjee.”