Kolkata (DHNS): In 1940, when Jagmohan Dalmiya was born, he was just the scion of a rich Marwari business family from Kolkata. On a balmy Monday afternoon 75 years later, thousands lined up at the historic Eden Gardens to pay respects to the man who turned Indian cricket into the glitzy empire it is today.
The government accorded him a state funeral with 21-gun salute announcing the end of an era.
Dalmiya’s last journey began from his residence at the posh south Kolkata neighbourhood of Alipore, with several luminaries from the world of cricket and politics accompanying the hearse to the crematorium. On the way, the cortege stopped at the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) club house adjacent to Eden Gardens where top officials of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), of which Dalmiya was the president, paid their respects. He was also the sitting president of the CAB.
Senior politician Sharad Pawar, Indian cricket team director Ravi Shastri, BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur, BCCI chief administrative officer Ratnakar Shetty, former BCCI president Shashank Manohar, Indian Premier League chairman Rajeev Shukla, former BCCI official Ajay Shirke and others paid their homage. N Srinivasan, BCCI’s immediate past president, who was seen speaking to Dalmiya’s son Abhishek, accompanied the cortege to the crematorium but failed to lay the wreath at any of the stops.
Dalmiya was admitted to a city hospital on September 17 with a massive heart attack but succumbed to a cardiac arrest on Sunday night even after undergoing a successful angioplasty procedure. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who was present at the hospital on Sunday and also during Monday’s funeral, said that the state government plans to name a road after Dalmiya and install a statue in the city. Senior state ministers Firhad Hakim and Arup Biswas played an active role in funeral arrangements, along with former Indian skipper Saurav Ganguly, currently CAB’s joint secretary.
As Dalmiya’s eyes were donated to a city-based eye research centre, an official BCCI statement informed that he had initiated social welfare programmes on cornea grafting and transplantations. Thakur, who was handling Dalmiya’s duties during his illness, told reporters that while the upcoming India-South Africa series will continue as scheduled, a period of two-minute silence will be observed before every match as a homage to Dalmiya.
While filling the board president’s office has come across as the crucial question of the hour, given Dalmiya’s tenure was scheduled till 2017, Thakur averted comments on the issue. “We’re not giving that a thought as of now,” he said.
Sources said that according to BCCI norms, the president’s office cannot be left vacant and the board has to call a special general meeting within 15 days to choose an interim president. A CAB official speculated that plans must be afoot given the unified presence of western lobby bigwigs like Pawar, Manohar and Shirke. “They had set aside differences and promoted Dalmiya as their candidate in the last election. Chances are they will do anything to stop Srinivasan from returning,” the official said.