It was just a couple of days back that West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya and transport and sports minister Subhas Chakraborty set their differences aside to help city police commissioner Prasun Mukherjee gain control of Cricket Association of Bengal.
If people thought the government was keen to promote sports, then they were in for a shock. On Wednesday, Chakraborty gave permission to the Publishers and Book Sellers' Guild to host the annual Kolkata Book Fair at the Salt Lake Stadium complex from February 9 to 21 after the High Court refused permission to stage the fair at the maidan, where it had been held for many years.
But the sports ministry seemed to have jumped the gun on this issue. On February 14, India host Myanmar in the return leg match of an Olympic football qualifier at Salt Lake Stadium. The date and venue had been finalised well in advance but the sports ministry had obviously no knowledge of that.
The match day will not only clash with the book fair but there will be total chaos at the stadium complex. Security will be another major concern, as the All India Football Federation (AIFF) will have to ensure tight security arrangements for what is an international match slotted by the Fifa.
The AIFF president and union information and broadcasting minister Priyaranjan Dasmunshi told HT: "I told Chakraborty not to announce the dates of the book fair in a hurry, but he ignored my advice.
“I am not sure how the match will be held. We can't change the date and venue all of a sudden and will need permission from Fifa. If we fail to comply to the regulations, we might face severe sanctions."
Failure to comply with the rules can draw a fine of minimum $25,000 and a three-year suspension for India from international football. Chakraborty rubbished the claims.
"I have had a discussion with Dasmunshi and he is trying to shift the match to another venue. But I am giving you my word that the match and book fair will be held peacefully.” Just goes to show the way sports, barring cricket, is treated in West Bengal.