Kolkata:The stage is set for a battle royal in the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) with seasoned cricket administrator Jagmohan Dalmiya filing his nomination Friday for the president's post.
In a repeat of the high-profile elections two years back, Dalmiya would cross swords with incumbent president Prasun Mukherjee in the July 29 Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the CAB.
Exuding confidence of pulling off a victory, Dalmiya told IANS: "This will be my second innings in the CAB. After the first innings got over, I had no intention of contesting again. But because of pressure from CAB members and also to serve Bengal cricket, I have agreed to get into it all these once again".
On Sourav Ganguly's comments targeting some of his close associates, Dalmiya said: "This is not a fresh issue. And whatever he has said is his personal matter. I don't want to comment on it".
In a tacit show of support to Mukherjee, Ganguly has said that he might consider quitting the Bengal team if some CAB members (Dalmiya loyalists) did not stop attacking his family members, especially his brother Snehasish.
Snehasish, a CAB assistant secretary, is Mukherjee's trusted lieutenant.
Dalmiya, who was CAB president for 13 consecutive years till he stepped down in December 2006, said his top most priority if elected would be to ensure Bengal was again promoted to the elite division of Ranji Trophy from the plate.
Dalmiya did not think that his legal battles with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) -- now controlled by his b te noire Sharad Pawar -- would stand in the way of his functioning as CAB president.
"These are my personal issues. There is a difference between individual and organisation. The CAB is in no way involved in the disputes," he said.
"And there is no bar on me from contesting any post. I have won all the cases. I have got all the clearances," he said.
On whether the BCCI could try to make things difficult for CAB if he won the election, Dalmiya said: "Why should they? I don't think anybody will do that. We will extend our support and cooperation to the board."
Mukherjee also appeared confident and said: "We all knew that he would be in fray. So there is no surprise element in that".
Asked to draw a comparison between the elections two years back and now, Mukherjee said: "Then I was new. The members had not seen me as a cricket administrator. Those who voted for me, they only voted on the bias of whatever impression they had formed of me from secondary sources. But now, they have seen me work for 17 months. My work is for all to see. I don't need to advertise or campaign."
In the July 2006 elections, Mukherjee had lost to Dalmiya by five votes despite getting the support of West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.
Mukherjee, a former city police commissioner was, however, unanimously elected to the top job in February last year after Dalmiya put in his papers.
Dalmiya also announced his panel. Biswarup Dey and Arun Mitra would be the candidates for the two posts of joint secretary, while Subir Ganguly filed his nomination for the treasurer's job.
The Dalmiya group also announced three vice presidential nominees -- Samar Kar, Shibaji Dutta and S.K. Kalyani. The lobby's fourth vice-presidential candidate would be a nominee of the West Bengal District Sports Federation (WBDSF).
The group also named its candidates for the trustee board, announcing P.B. Dutt as its choice as the board's chairman.
Dalmiya, the first Asian chief (1997-2000) of the International Cricket Council, ruled the BCCI with an iron hand as its secretary (1993-1996) and president (2001-2005).
'Jagguda', as Dalmiya is known among his friends, tried to control the board by proxy after installing his acolyte Ranbir Singh Mahendra as president in September 2005. But Dalmiya and his group were thrown out of the BCCI in January 2006, when union minister Sharad Pawar became the president.
Coming down hard on Dalmiya, the Pawar-led BCCI slapped a suspension notice and filed an FIR against him for alleged misappropriation of 1996 World Cup funds, before finally banning him.