Sourav menu: Dinner for Shah, sweetener for Didi and Firhad
BCCI chief and former skipper of the Indian cricket team Sourav Ganguly on Saturday spoke of his close ties with Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, his comment coming within 24 hours of hishosting dinner for Union home minister Amit Shah and several BJP leaders at his Behala residence in Calcutta.
“When I heard about the plan (to set up a private cardiac hospital), I went and told chief minister Mamata Banerjee, with whom I share a close relation, seeking her help for this project. I told her only once and later I came to know that all work was done,” said Sourav during the inauguration of a private cardiac hospital, off EM Bypass.
Sourav was present at the event with his wife Dona.
Later, he explained the reason behind referring to Mamata at the event.
“I had contacted the chief minister as there were some land-related problems,” said Sourav, making it clear that the chief minister’s intervention ironed out the hurdles.
Not just Mamata, Sourav also heaped praise on Calcutta mayor and urban development and municipal affairs minister Firhad Hakim, who was also present at Saturday’s event.
“Those who have ever gone to Firhad Hakim for any help, they have always received it. I also often call him... I have known him for the past 40 years,” said a smiling Sourav, stealing a glance at Hakim.
Though Sourav’s presence at the programme was prescheduled and his comment had no political content, his praise for Mamata and Hakim became a talking point in the political circles as they came a day after Shah’s visit to his home.
Before the 2021 Bengal Assembly polls there were speculations that the BJP central leadership was keen on him joining the saffron party.
Shah’s visit to Sourav’s home also triggered speculations on the real reason behind it.
Some people even criticised Sourav for hosting Shah and several BJP leaders at dinner.
Trinamul MLA from Balagarh and writer Manoranjan Byapari used his social media handle to attack Ganguly.
“I have sympathy for those who consider Sourav (Ganguly) as the icon for Bengalis even after he invites and hosts an extreme hater of Bengalis, their culture and literature and a conspirator to divide Bengal, to a feast,” Byapari wrote.
Some political observers said Sourav tried a balancing act this morning.
“It is certainly a subject of praise for the capacity to keep the balance… well balanced and well played Dada,” Anupam Hazra, a BJP national secretary tweeted on Saturday.
Trinamul insiders said that Sourav, with his praise for Mamata and Hakim, proved that he had a warm relationship with Trinamul.
Several Trinamul sources recalled Sourav’s recent visit to Nabanna referring to his relationship with Mamata. The BCCI chief had gone to Nabanna and met Mamata on April 28 seeking a stretch of alternative land to set up a stadium.