Senior BJP leader Gopinath Munde on Tuesday took his political battle against Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar to the field of cricket by filing his nomination form for the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) presidential polls. His close aide said,Munde is awaiting developments. He has also kept the option of fielding his name for Vice President’s post.
Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan who had registered himself as member from Mazgaon Cricket Club is still non-committal on contesting for the president post of MCA.
He said,I have just become a member. But that doesn’t mean I will contest for the top post. But,Congress leaders are mounting pressure on him to contest the polls as was done by late chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh. The argument in the Congress is MCA is one of the most powerful bodies and the chief minister of Maharashtra should not allow the remote-control to slip into NCP’s hands.
However,Chavan is unsure as he reckons Pawar’s ability to wield control is tough to challenge.
Both Chavan and Munde appear to be working in tandem to corner NCP president Sharad Pawar’s game plan in MCA. Pawar who is keenly monitoring the developments is still considered to be ahead of Munde when it comes to numbers. Munde conceded as much when he said,I have joined the cricket contest to make my point on certain issues. I don’t know why NCP should feel so worried. I want to expose the wrongs in the game of cricket. And I believe those at the helm have to answer some questions.
Interestingly,couple of hours after Munde filed the form NCP activists staged a demonstration outside his residence at Worli in Mumbai. Munde said, My decision to contest the MCA elections is to highlight the wrongdoings in the organisation. There are some basic issues which have brought disrepute to the game of cricket. And I want to make a point. I am surprised at the NCP’s overreaction. Why should they feel so threatened?”
However,NCP spokesperson Nawab Mulik said,The demonstration has nothing to do with cricket. Those protesting were upset as Munde threatened to send deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar behind bars. At a public rally held in Marathwada district,Munde had said, If our government is voted to power and corruption against Ajit Pawar is proved,we will send him to prison.
Munde insists the battle isn’t political. And he’s keen on taking up the cause of the clubs. “There is no attention given towards clubs’ welfare. They (MCA) do not give any support to clubs. Cricketers come up from these clubs. Thats when I felt I need to fight. These cricketers are produced at the grassroot level.”
One contentious issue is the BKC club house. “One of the issues that I came across while talking to club members is the Bandra Kurla Complex where Mr Shirke has been given charge of developing the BKC club house. 1500 memberships are with the MCA. Clubs were promised these memberships but nothing has been done so far,” he says.
Munde is also questioning the status of the Garware Club House. “Garware Club House was given around one lakh FSI (Floor Space Index) by the MCA. But nobody knows what is going on with that – whether it is on rent or we have sold it. There are many questions regarding that. The secret agreement between the MCA and Garware needs to be made public. I will try to bring all such issues to light,” he says.
Munde is also coming down hard on MCA’s reneging of certain commitments. “Another thing I noticed is that the BCCI gives Rs 35 to 40 crores every year to the MCA. It was decided to set aside Rs 5 crore every year as corpus fund. It was done only for one year. It should have been done every year.”
He reiterates it’s all non-political. “I would not like to mix politics with sports. I am not against any individual. I am the first applicant to file my nomination for the presidents post. I have no idea who will contest for this post against me.”