A double whammy of sorts has perhaps caught the Bengali on the wrong foot in recent times.The Abhijit – Esther duo
being awarded the Nobel in Economics and a much loved Saurav becoming the President of BCCI unopposed.
The Bengali is generally an Indian only as an afterthought for he is that unique species undiscovered by Darwin and therefore this windfall of worldwide attention is also equally special.But like everything Bengali this too comes with its fair share of contradictions.Abhijit is fragile cutlery to be handled with care what with his criticism of Modi Babus New India policies.This ambiguity can be traced historically to a large number of Bengalis while being obedient clerks (read babus)under the English a sizeable did not think twice about chucking a bomb or two at the same Gora Sahibs or languish in their youthful prime in the dark interiors of the Cellular jail forever.So this part of the Bengali being double – faced both a rebel and an apparitichik is it true human face to be politically correct that is .
Into this problematic comes our darling Saurav who by common understanding gave a self – confidence to Indian cricket -eminently rare. Coming on the back of a match – fixing scandal with Sachin developing cold feet where leading was concerned Saurav stood tall in principle and practice to take India out of this corrupt hole.No stranger to controversy he took to cricket administration like duck to water.Blessed by Dalmia,wooed by CPI (M),encouraged by Mamata Saurav effectively held his counsel and warded off these advances while being the proverbial “Bhadralok”.He headed Cricket Association of Bengal and always looked higher and further towards Mumbai and BCCI as an ambitious man.Nominated by the Supreme Court to be in the Committee for Administrators it is instructive to remember here that he successfully teamed up with the likes of a Tendulkar and Laxman with Kumble as coach to keep Vinod Rai happy with the arrangement.Until the Kohli-Sashtri combine upstaged this rather fraternal foursome.(Remember a far-sighted or a weak balled Ramachandra Guha had fled the Cuckoo’s Nest quite early.)When a lot of seniors were crying foul at the Kumble (mis)handling including Gavaskar,the shrewd Saurav very early sensed the changing winds and decided to re-set his sails for safety first and speed next.He vigorously defended Kohli’s acts of ommission and commission both on and off the field and smartly skirted his personal differences with Sashtri as coach.In part this could be his own less patronised philosophy of captain in command always l’affaire Greg Chapell that is.In time he vocally also opposed the conflict of interest issue to establish common cause with a lot of former cricketers to which he was an involved party too.
It is perhaps a matter of conjecture that he correctly surmised that the power and authority of a Dhoni or Kohli came from the political upper stories rather than the BCCI.He must have also surmised that Vinod Rai was a limited tool with a specific agenda employed to clear certain annoying impediments or persons in the way of the complete control of these very same superiors.That Cricket was very much a proven business model for money to be made was never lost upon these grab and appropriate political party in power.The palpable entry of political jingoism in the shape of an emblematic glove,camouflage caps in a Test Match and black bands worn by all test players as a token of respect on the demise of a Central Minister and former head of DDCA were confirmations of unseemly political penetrations into the very heart of this very popular game.Ganguly watched silently all of it and perhaps was also sending enough indications of his apolitical pedigree awaiting baptism with the right party.
This journey of cricketing politics of Saurav now culminates with a not so routine visit of his to Amit Shah a day prior to the BCCI elections.And what do we get.He becomes President and Amit Shah ‘s son become Secretary unopposed with Anurag Thakur’s brother in tow.The former heavy weights like a Shukla,Niranjan Shahor a Srinivasan very much there supervising the proceedings and make the coronation happen.
Now cut back to the essential argument of Bengali binaries and ambivalence.Like the Abhijit case being restricted to limited celebrations among the cerebral with some Right Wing sympathisers going to town on his immoral personal life – divorce and abandonment of his first love followed by a second marriage to a White French girl student while pursuing research on left -leaning subjects to denigrate a strong nationalist Indian Prime Minister the same Bengali community perhaps in larger numbers or almost unanimously see Saurav ‘s climb to the top to be in no conflict with principle or professionalism that got him there.Particularly when the new East India Company with its HQ’S in Delhi is looking for an entry and a popular face to lead it’s charge in Bengal elections sometime late next year during which period Saurav should have demitted office going by the current rules in force for BCCI.
Many who know and are not easily swayed by isolated acts had opined that Dhoni’s gloves issue was much ado about nothing.The double – faced Bengali is secretly wishing Saurav and the BJP would make a great team for Bengal while the cringing and fawning Babu in him is running scared and confused undecided on the future of their fiery Didi who till yesterday ,perhaps even still loved had liberated their dear land from the hands of the lumpen-left.The famed Revolutionaries have since become as rare as the Dacca muslin-cloth to save the Bengalis from any furher dilemmas ,thankfully.
So will Saurav set all of these conjectures aside as idle banter or will he chose to be the quintessential Mumbaikar professionally and commercially savvy for principles to make way for prudence or practicality?To say that he will withstand the definite interference and interventions of the Big Two to be his own man would be madly Bengali in substance but highly unlikely.
The Bengali will be in the crosshairs of such and more sustained and critical questioning in the future.And in its answers or denouement will the reputation and character of the janus-faced Bengali be determined.
I write as a Bengali who is disturbed by the marked ambivalence in today’s politics in Bengal in general and of an uncritical,narrow minded,chauvinistic Saurav fan following in particular.