A day after Union Home Minister Amit Shah paid a visit to his residence and had dinner with his family, which grabbed attention, BCCI president Sourav Ganguly Saturday spoke of his close relation with the Chief Minister, who is known to be a strident critic of the BJP. Ganguly, former Indian cricket team captain, also showered praise on minister and city mayor Firhad Hakim describing him as a person who can be approached by anyone at any time of the day.
"Our honourable Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is a person very close to me. I had approached her to help up this institute," he said at the inauguration programme of a private hospital here. The former southpaw said, "I am also very close to Firhad Hakim. He has been seeing me since I was in Class 1. He has been our family friend. All who approach him get help. I too have called him several times," Ganguly said.
Shah’s visit to Ganguly’s residence on Friday had fuelled speculation that the former cricketer would join politics soon. The dinner was reported to be a close family affair where besides Ganguly and his wife danseuse Dona Ganguly, the cricketer's elder brother Snehasish Ganguly and other family members were hosts. Shah was accompanied by BJP ideologue, Swapan Dasgupta, the party's state president Sukanta Majumdar and the Leader of Opposition in the West Bengal assembly, Suvendu Adhikari.
Aware of the conjectures, Ganguly had said on Friday, “Many speculations are rife but I have known him (Shah) since 2008. While playing, I used to meet him. There's nothing more than that". He had also pointed out he had worked with Shah's son, Jay Amitbhai Shah, in the Board of Control for Cricket in India. Jay Shah is the BCCI secretary.
Dona Ganguly had said there was no discussion on politics during Shah’s visit to the Ganguly residence. "It is human to speculate. But if there is any news, everyone will know." She had also said, "I don't know whether Sourav will enter politics or not. But he will do well if he joins politics. I believe he will do good work for the people". Ganguly had visited the state secretariat on April 28 and met Banerjee regarding the allocation of land to the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB), of which he is the president, to build a stadium. Political analyst Biswajit Chakraborty described Ganguly as a "businessman" who is trying to maintain good terms with the central and state governments so that his business runs smoothly.
"Ganguly is doing this for his own benefit. He knows that he has to keep both the Centre and Mamata Banerjee happy so that his business keeps running. He has been balancing quite nicely," Chakraborty told PTI. Another analyst called Ganguly a "perfect gentleman" who was doing a "balancing act".
"Ganguly is an immensely intelligent man. I guess Shah had come to his residence yesterday to evaluate how much Ganguly is ready to plunge into politics. And today, he (Ganguly) spoke about his closeness to the CM. Though I do not see any significance in it, I think he is doing it because he has to survive both nationally as well as in the state," he added.