The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Subhas for Prasun, for 7 months

Calcutta, Jan. 24: Subhas Chakraborty did a somersault today, “trying to ensure” city police chief Prasun Mukherjee could become the Cricket Association of Bengal president without a contest.

The sports minister, who had been insisting that he would fight for CAB president until two days ago, was today calling up people in the sports fraternity, asking them to ensure a walkover for Mukherjee.

Attributing his pullout to “a dramatic change in circumstances”, Chakraborty said: “I’ve been talking to all those who were instrumental in fielding me for the post. I’ve told them that there shouldn’t be another candidate opposite Prasun.”

“After going through the forms, we found no one other than Mr Mukherjee had filed nomination for the post and so he will be the unanimous choice,” CAB joint secretary Saradindu Pal said in the evening.

The police chief was happy at the unexpected show of support. “I’m happy that sports minister Subhas Chakraborty supported me, though he had earlier wished to contest. As a sports minister, he is an important person and I will definitely seek his cooperation,” Mukherjee said.

“BCCI president Mr Sharad Pawar called me up and assured all help,” he added.

The minister, who had vowed not to allow the police “to rule the Maidan”, had been told the by the CPM not to eye the cricket post.

Today, he hinted that a compromise had been reached at yesterday’s meeting with chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and state party secretary Biman Bose, where he was promised that the government would not meddle in the next CAB poll, seven months later.

“I don’t know what will happen in seven months, but one thing is clear — the government will not get involved in any sports body election, be it cricket or football or swimming,” Chakraborty said.

Asked if he was forced to pull out, the minister said he had to go by the party’s deci- sion. He also “couldn’t ignore the chief minister’s request” and Jyoti Basu’s “advice”.

Chakraborty said the only occasion he had violated party discipline was when he criticised the Election Commission’s high-handedness before last year’s Assembly polls.

After the cabinet meeting this morning, the sports minister had a chat with the CPI’s Nandagopal Bhattacharya and the RSP’ Kshiti Goswami, who had backed his bid.

Bhattacharya, who had said Chakraborty “should” contest the poll and that he was a far better candidate than Mukherjee, declined comment on his colleague’s volte-face.

“I don’t want to be involved in this anymore,” he said.

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