From Prince of Calcutta to King of West Bengal, is Sourav Ganguly being readied to be the BJP’s face for West Bengal Elections 2021?
One of India’s most loved sports stars, Sourav Ganguly is set to be elected the new President of the Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI), unopposed. Furthermore, the Prince of Calcutta looks to be on the BJP’s radar as they look for the perfect face to take on Mamata Banerjee in West Bengal.
The Prince of Calcutta looks to be on the BJP’s radar as their face to take on Mamata Banerjee in West Bengal.
Apart from Ganguly, the new BCCI leadership comes from BJP heavyweight families. Home Minister Amit Shah’s son Jay Shah is set to become the new secretary. Likewise, Arun Dhumal, brother of former BCCI president and current MoS Finance Anurag Thakur will be the new treasurer.
One of India’s most successful cricket captains, Ganguly might not be into mainstream politics yet. But one can’t ignore that with his personality, and the fact he’s adored by the people of West Bengal. With his charisma, dynamism, and success, Ganguly automatically qualifies to enter and flourish in India’s regional political landscape.
Furthermore, there have been recent developents that have fueled rumors. While the BJP and Ganguly deny any such plans, politicians and celebs are known to backtrack on such statements.
What sparks the rumors: The Ganguly-BJP affair
On 12th October, Sourav Ganguly met the Union Home Minister Amit Shah. Rumour mill has it that it was Home Minister who offered support to the former captain’s candidature to BCCI President’s post, but it might be part of a bigger plan for BJP’s chief architect. Unsurprisingly, BJP could push the well-loved Ganguly as their face in the upcoming West Bengal election in 2021.
Home Minister Amit Shah expressly denied any deal made with Ganguly.
Shah also stated that the BCCI election procedure is not under his jurisprudence. However, the Home Minister himself fueled further speculation when he said, “if Sourav (Ganguly) does, then it is good, but as such, there is no deal or discussion with him about the same.” Sourav Ganguly made a similar assertion denying any such rumors.
Why Ganguly to BJP is more fire than smoke?
During the last 6 years of National resurgence, West Bengal is one of the few regional bastions BJP was unable to break. Even with the mandate in the 2014 Lok Sabha election with no opposition in the Centre, BJP could only secure only able to secure 2 seats out of 42 in WB Lok Sabha.
According to some regional reports, BJP approached Sourav Ganguly without success in the run-up to the 2016 West Bengal State Elections. Consequently, BJP failed to match up to Mamata Banerjee’s persona and suffered an abysmal result with just 3 seats out of 294, without a popular and powerful name.
Moreover, Mamata Banerjee and Trinamool Congress’ (TMC) have an unrelenting stronghold in West Bengal. Till now, BJP has no candidate presumed capable enough to achieve the unfulfilled dream of making inroads in the state. This makes Ganguly an ideal catch for the PM Modi and HM Amit Shah led BJP.
West Bengal Political Scene has matured enough
The 2019 Lok Sabha election proved an unprecedented success for the PM Modi led BJP. With a regional ramp up, BJP made inroads in West Bengal too, securing 18 seats. Furthermore, BJP now has a significant presence in the state with several cadres that have rapidly come up.
Therefore, this makes the 2021 West Bengal election an optimistic playfield for BJP. Home Minister Amit Shah will attempt and dislodge the Mamata Banerjee-led TMC government. Looking at BJP’s options in the state, Ganguly appears better poised than anyone to be a future leader of West Bengal.
Ironically, Ganguly and West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee have a warm relationship. Banerjee has on occasions also called Ganguly a part of her family.
Cricket Conditioning of Voters
It isn’t easy to ignore the ruling party’s influence on Cricket in India today. Explaining that is a story for another day. But it does know how to leverage the love for the game and emotions Indians attach to cricket. Before the 2019 Lok Sabha election, another fan-favorite former cricketer joined BJP’s ranks. Consequently, Gautam Gambhir contested and won the East Delhi seat in the capital.
Recently, HM Amit Shah honored current Indian Skipper Virat Kohli with a stand at his hometown Delhi’s Ferozeshah Kotla Stadium. The Kolta was also renamed after the late Arun Jaitley, a BJP stalwart, former Finance Minister and ex-President of the Delhi District Cricket Association.
Thus, speculations by political analysts that appointing Ganguly as BCCI president could be a trump card for BJP in winning over West Bengal’s cricket-crazy population might hold water after all. Such cricketing love affairs have historically flourished in Indian politics.
Dada’s BCCI Presidentship and Career beyond
As a batsman, Ganguly used to dance down the pitch or slice in the air on backfoot with grace. Similarly, he demonstrated grace in his capacity as the President of the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB). His administrative abilities also resemble that of former CAB, BCCI, and ICC President Jagmohan Dalmiya. Dalmiya shared a strong bond with Ganguly.
Moreover, Ganguly will be the first cricketer in 65 years to become an elected BCCI President. Last was Vizzy or the Maharaja of Vizianagaram. For Indian cricket, Ganguly at the top is also a new trend. This is a direct result of the Supreme Court impeding oligarchy in the game recently. It will also be interesting to see what he achieves as the apex national administrator of Cricket in his 10-month tenure.
But as BCCI President, Sourav Ganguly undoubtedly enters a murky area. An influential lobby where Indian cricketers enter politics and politicians enter cricket administrations. So, all eyes are on his next move.