West Bengal Sports Minister Subhas Chakraborty said on Saturday that former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly would not have became a famous cricketer without the backing of his mentor-turned-foe Jagmohan Dalmiya.
The comment of the sports minister a day after Sourav Ganguly's explosive e-mail to his brother supporting anti-Dalmiya candidate Prasun Mukherjee in the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) elections spoke volumes about where Chakraborty's preferences lay.
The minister was ironically sent as an emissary of Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya to persuade Dalmiya to step aside.
While Sourav's e-mail targeted Dalmiya for his removal from the national squad, Chakraborty told a Bengali TV channel, "I believe that if today Sourav is a world famous cricketer, it is not without the backing of Dalmiya."
"People who leak emails and sacrifice players' careers should be heavily punished," Sourav, who is now in England playing county cricket for Northamptonshire, wrote in the email on Friday.
He was alluding to Dalmiya for leaking the mail of coach Greg Chappell that was the beginning of the end of Sourav's career.
Chakraborty, who is known for his independent remarks and anti-Buddhadeb Bhattacharya stance, went full throttle in supporting Dalmiya on Saturday saying, "In keeping with the wishes of the chief minister he had wanted to step aside as a compromise formula, but he wanted his own candidate for the president's post and panel to win the elections which again was not acceptable (to Bhattacharya)."
"Dalmiya had told me that in keeping with the chief minister's words he would step aside despite reservations. But he said he was fighting bigger forces (in the Board of Control for Cricket in India) that are conspiring against him," he said.
"In that case he said CAB is his only platform to fight for survival. He said that if he did not have his friends in the CAB he would not be able to fight. His associates forced him to file nominations for the elections," Chakraborty said quoting Dalmiya.
"I don't see any possibility of his back-tracking now despite provisions," Chakraborty said.
If Dalmiya wins the elections on July 30 defeating the Bhattacharya-backed candidate and city police chief Prasun Mukherjee, it would be seen as a personal setback for the chief minister whose intervention in the CAB elections was criticised by his predecessor Jyoti Basu.