Sourav Ganguly meets Mamata at Nabanna, sparks fresh speculation
A sudden meeting between former India skipper and former BCCI president Sourav Ganguly and Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee at the latter’s 14th floor chamber at Nabanna on Monday afternoon kept the rumor mills churning for the later part of the day.
Ganguly reached the state secretariat at 4 pm and met the chief minister for about 20 minutes before leaving the premises without divulging what transpired between the two at the closed-door session.
Although Banerjee remained tight-lipped about the former cricketer’s appearance, Dada later told reporters that the discussions were on a “strictly personal matter”.
Sources close to Ganguly confirmed that Banerjee requested his presence at her office and that the meeting was pre-scheduled.
Sources at Nabanna stated that the two are likely to have spoken about land allocation for Ganguly’s cricket academy in the state and about certain affairs concerning the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB).
This was Ganguly’s second visit to the chief minister’s office in nine months. The last time he was there was in April last year when he was steering the country’s cricket administration board as its president. A plot of land for the CAB in Rajarhat on the outskirts of Kolkata was the prime agenda of that previous meeting.
In the interim period though, Ganguly has shared dais with Banerjee on multiple occasions on state government platforms like at the pre-Puja event to celebrate the UNESCO-accorded Intangible Cultural Heritage to the festival in September last year and, more recently, at the Kolkata International Film Festival inaugural programme in December.
Speculation over the possibility of Ganguly joining politics have been doing rounds for over a considerable period, especially after he managed to catapult himself from the running cricket administration of the state post his retirement from all forms of the game and owning stakes in IPL franchises to positioning himself at the helm of BCCI where he worked closely with board secretary Jay Shah, son of Union home minister Amit Shah.
Very few, though, have been able to put their fingers on Ganguly’s party of choice, if at all there was any. Ganguly, on his part, has consistently denied all possibilities of him joining active politics.
The grapevine was replete with murmurs of Ganguly’s possible switch over to the BJP after he hosted Amit Shah and a host of other BJP leaders at his Behala residence for dinner in May, 2022 in the aftermath of the party falling way short of its announced mark in the state polls. Maharaja, as Ganguly is called in his closest circles, was seen a day later sharing stage with Mamata Banerjee and the Kolkata Mayor Firhad Hakim at an inauguration of a hospital in the southern fringes of the city.
Few also remember that he maintained close ties with leaders of the erstwhile ruling Left dispensation, especially former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Ashok Bhattacharya.
While the cricketer has welcomed Mamata Banerjee who ushered him with gifts at his residence on his birthday, sources confirmed that Ganguly has unfailingly reciprocated the move by sending the Trinamul supremo specially crafted gifts on her birthday earlier this month.
If keeping the opponent guessing about his next move is what the "Prince of Calcutta" did best while leading Team India on the pitch, he sure seems determined to continue the act off it, at least for now.