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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 16 April 2024

Mamata passes on Shah Rukh's Bengal brand ambassador hat to Sourav Ganguly at state business summit

The former skipper had already hogged media headlines when he joined Mamata Banerjee in Spain during her official business-attracting tour in September

Sougata Mukhopadhyay Calcutta Published 21.11.23, 10:51 PM
Mamata Banerjee with Sourav Ganguly after naming him as the brand ambassador of West Bengal during the inaugural session of the 7th Bengal Global Business Summit.

Mamata Banerjee with Sourav Ganguly after naming him as the brand ambassador of West Bengal during the inaugural session of the 7th Bengal Global Business Summit. PTI picture.

The spotlight on the centre stage of the inaugural session of the 7th edition of Bengal Global Business Summit was shared by an unlikely celebrity face, Bengal’s very own Sourav Ganguly.

The former skipper of the Indian cricket team, who recently forayed into business by picking up stakes in a TMT-bar manufacturing company, had already hogged media headlines when he joined Mamata Banerjee in Spain during her official business-attracting tour in September this year and had announced the setting up of a steel plant in Midnapore at an investment of Rs 3,500 crore.

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Tuesday’s occasion marked Ganguly being named as Bengal’s new Brand Ambassador by Banerjee, a position held by superstar Shah Rukh Khan since 2012 and which was briefly passed on to the state’s homegrown superstar-cum-Trinamul MP Dev in March this year.

Ganguly was seated to the left of Banerjee (Reliance chairman Mukesh Ambani was on her right) amid a galaxy of business tycoons and foreign dignitaries and heaped praises on the Trinamul Congress chief for her “support she offered every time it was needed”.

“We know the kind of pressure she handles and how busy she remains with the kind of responsibility she shoulders. Yet when I send an SMS to her, I get a reply in one minute. Very rarely will be there be a delay,” Ganguly said to an applauding audience.

“I am so touched by the care and affection I get from her. Every time she sees me on TV she inquires if I am eating properly. I am touched by the small things she notices in people,” Ganguly continued, addressing Banerjee as Didi.

Banerjee reciprocated by making Ganguly the state’s brand ambassador. “You know that Sourav Ganguly is a very popular figure and he can work for the new generation in an appropriate manner. I want to involve him as Bengal’s brand ambassador,” the chief minister announced.

“Don’t say no. Say yes and embrace positivity. Let’s script our destiny with our willpower,” Didi said while handing over the official state contract to a smiling Dada on the BGBS inauguration platform itself.

Interestingly, in May this year, Ganguly accepted an offer to become the brand ambassador of the BJP-ruled Tripura to promote tourism in the Bengali-dominated northeastern state.

"It's a matter of great pride that former captain of Indian cricket team Sourav Ganguly has accepted our proposal to be the Brand Ambassador of Tripura Tourism," Tripura chief minister Manik Saha stated in a Facebook post.

The state BJP leadership had, at that time, hailed the Tripura government’s decision stating that the Manik Saha regime “fixed a mistake” which the Mamata Banerjee government committed.

“The West Bengal Government never gave Sourav Ganguly his due whereas the BJP-led Tripura Government made him their brand ambassador,” Sukanta Majumdar, West Bengal BJP president had said.

Referring to Shah Rukh Khan donning the Bengal state ambassador hat, BJP leader Dilip Ghosh had commented: “When you have people like Sourav Ganguly in your state, why do you need someone else as its brand ambassador?”

It could also just be a coincidence that Ganguly was the star player and captain of the Khan-owned KKR franchise in IPL since its first season in 2008 only to quit later following fall-outs with the management.

Speculations over Ganguly joining active politics have hovered around the cricket icon for long and his so-called proximity to the BJP top brass during his stint as the BCCI president assumed frenzied proportions when the former skipper hosted Union home minister Amit Shah at his Behala residence in May 2022. Banerjee, too, has personally visited Ganguly’s house to greet him on his birthday barely a month after the 2021 state polls while ensuring the cricketer’s presence at multiple state government programmes.

During the erstwhile Left Front regime, Dada was known to be close to some of the top left leaders including Ashok Bhattacharya and former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.

Ganguly, on his part though, has consistently maintained his lack of interest in politics and stated his preference for the sporting world.

“It’s quite natural for someone like me, who’s born and brought up in this city, to see things prosper. Because when you grow up and get recognized in a city, you always want good things to happen here,” Ganguly said at the business summit platform on Tuesday.

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