Nehru fanboy Ramchandra Guha in his recent memoir did not hold any punches while going after BCCI President Sourav Ganguly. He called legendary cricketer ‘greedy’ but then, it could be a case of sour grapes as the alleged ‘historian’ had earlier resigned from the Committee of Administrators which was appointed by the Supreme Court to manage the BCCI.
There is another reason, however, which has earned the former captain of the Indian cricket team a lot of criticism from expected quarters. There have been persistent rumours for a long time that he would bite the bullet and join the BJP ahead of the elections in 2021. So far, he has not but that has not silenced speculations.
There are moments when the speculations are stronger than others but rumours of Sourav Ganguly joining the BJP have refused to die out. For instance, earlier in August, the former cricketer had returned the two-acre land at New Town he had received from the Trinamool Government to build a school. He had personally met Mamata Banerjee at Nabanna, the state secretariat, for the same but it was a remarkably quiet affair.
As late as November, senior Trinamool leader Sougata Roy made his displeasure known at the prospect of the BCCI president taking a dive in politics. “I would not be happy (if he joins politics). Sourav is an icon for all Bengalis, the only cricket captain from Bengal. He is also popular because of his TV show but Sourav has no background in politics, he would not be able to serve politics,” he told India Today.
Sougata Roy further said, “He does not know the problems of the country and its poor. He has no exposure to poverty, problems of labour.” These do not seem to be very plausible reasons as ‘Dada’ has massive popularity among Bengalis transcending class barriers. West Bengal also has a history of electing candidates from the entertainment industry, some in TMC itself. And Ganguly’s popularity beats theirs by a country mile.
His privileged background is unlikely to be a liability or an obstacle as he will have a sleek political machine at his disposal should he join the BJP. It is more likely that it will work in his favour as certain sections of the urban Bengali Hindu electorate will find Ganguly a more palatable Chief Ministerial candidate than others.
Sourav Ganguly himself is known to share a cordial relationship with Amit Shah and his son Jay Shah, who also happens to be the Secretary of BCCI. Dona Ganguly, the cricketer’s wife, a dancer of considerable pedigree by her own right, was seen performing at BJP Mahila Morcha’s Durga Puja in Kolkata.
Due to the political nature of the BCCI appointment, and the cordial relationship between Ganguly and senior leaders of the party, it is a subject of endless speculation that he might be the Chief Ministerial candidate for the BJP in 2021 Assembly Elections in West Bengal.
But it has also been reported that Sourav Ganguly has conveyed his disinterest in joining politics to the BJP. Home Minister Amit Shah, on the other hand, has been remarkably nonchalant about the prospects of him joining the party. Last year, he denied that the party had made any attempts to recruit the cricketer but admitted that ‘it would be good’ if he joined.
With momentum in BJP’s favour after Suvendu Adhikari jumped ship, it remains to be seen whether it is the final straw and Sourav Ganguly finally decided to take the plunge. A ‘Dada’ vs ‘Didi’ battle in 2021 will certainly be a very enticing prospect for any political observer.