West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday dared Prime Minister Narendra Modi to prove that she took money selling her paintings.The TMC chief’s strong reaction comes after BJP president Amit Shah on Tuesday alleged Ms. Banerjee’s paintings were bought by chit fund owners for crores of rupees.Addressing a public meeting here, Ms. Banerjee said the BJP leaders have no courtesy and her party has initiated defamation proceedings “over the baseless allegation“.“Modi Babu (PM), I challenge you to prove that I have taken a single penny (for selling the paintings) in my account. You talk like a barbarian and have no courtesy,” Ms. Banerjee said.
A friend called the day after Chandu Borde was anointed India cricket manager and said, “See, given that it’s Raj Singh and Sharad Pawar, do you think they meant Chandu Pandit?” It was good for a laugh, but creeping into the back of the mind came the immediate afterthought. Suppose?As,A friend called the day after Chandu Borde was anointed India cricket manager and said, “See, given that it’s Raj Singh and Sharad Pawar, do you think they meant Chandu Pandit?” It was good for a laugh, but creeping into the back of the mind came the immediate afterthought. Suppose?As farce after farce has continued to unravel, taking the fans’ minds with it, mistaking Pandit for Borde could have been a very real possibility with this BCCI. To be absolutely fair to the BCCI, Graham Ford’s conduct after he left India was unbecoming. Even if he was given a roasting at the interview, offered monkey-nuts for a salary and forced to accept a straitjacket in the name of working conditions. Whatever his reasons for changing his mind, a courtesy call to anyone in Indian cricket who had sought him out in the first place was the least he could have done before posting a thanks-but-no-thanks message on a website. It’s called manners.The BCCI’s mistake-one more in an impressively long list this year-was to jump into an announcement that could have waited 24 hours. They left the door open, and ended up looking stupid. Not that that takes any effort, with the current dispensation. Surprising because most of its key office-bearers have the reputation of being pitbulls in their own fields. Somehow, with the bogey of Jagmohan Dalmiya banished (and no doubt chuckling in Kolkata), all they look like now is a bunch of squabbling school boys each trying to impress the headmaster who himself has lost control of the entire institution.advertisementDespite Ford’s unbecoming conduct, the BCCI’s mistake was to make an announcement that could have waited 24 hours.Inside the first six months of the year, the BCCI has demonised its best players, tried to cut salaries, changed terms previously agreed upon, given one TV partner a discount on a deal (not its fault), allowing bank guarantee to lapse which caused the collapse of a $216-million TV deal (most definitely its fault).The BCCI’s many marketing partners are struggling to find takers for numerous mickey mouse tours before the Indian team’s tour of England this summer, but no one in the Board has been able to schedule an extra practice game for the team when they travel to Australia in their winter.When Pawar, who now has ambitions of heading the ICC, took charge at the BCCI, he promised transparency, accountability and professionalism. Today, those words sound like the Borde or Pandit gag. In any case, Pawar seems distracted between choosing a President and finding a coach. Naturally, anarchy has broken around him. The BCCI’s current hierarchy has produced a platoon of mini-Pawars, wannabes who strut around the country eager to be seen and heard, preferably on TV.A weary BCCI official says, “Board officials must be responsible. You don’t have to be on TV everyday, you don’t have to make statements everyday. Only one person should speak for the Board.” These days it’s a rotating roster. It began with Lalit Modi, the marketing guru, followed by Shashank Manohar, the hardliner. Now it’s N. Srinivasan, the financial whiz, and no, we won’t go on about the bank guarantee. Ambient noise continues to be provided by Rajiv Shukla and Niranjan Shah, still head to head in the contest for soundbite production.When self-righteous Australians and outraged Englishmen rant on about the BCCI’s sinister plans to hijack cricket, Indians have to stop themselves. Not so much from shrieking ‘racism!’ but from breaking into giggling fits. The western world must have spotted a military efficiency that escaped us.All we see is the embarrassing anticlimax of the World Cup, imploding TV deals, the coach hunt that turned to custard and the appointment of a manager who will celebrate his 73rd birthday in England, aviator sunglasses and beaming smile in place. Cake, anyone
The Indian team will take on England in a much-awaited series, which includes four Test matches followed by a lone T20 match and five one-dayers, and star Indian middle-order batsman Rahul Dravid has picked Graeme Swann and James Anderson as the bowlers to watch out for.Dravid said that the English attack will be quite a handful in their home conditions.”James Anderson has bowled really well. He’s been the trump card. Obviously Graeme Swann is a top-class spinner. We first saw him in England bowling here last time and the boys rated him.”He’s come on leaps and bounds from then and has become one of their lead bowlers. Swann and Anderson are the key,” the veteran batsman said in the August issue of The Cricketer magazine.Dravid, who averages over 65 in Tests in England, said that attack would be the best option against the off- spinner, who is widely regarded as the best in the world.”He’s (Swann) an attacking bowler and that’s one of the things that is different. He’s not just looking to contain, he’s looking to take wickets. He’s not scared to toss the ball up and gets turn with good sideways spin. It will be a good contest against batsmen who are good players against spin, who will not be scared to take him on.”The upcoming Test series and the subsequent five ODIs has assumed enormous proportions, with the England team making it clear they intend to beat India and go for the No. 1 spot in Test rankings.advertisementDravid admitted that the England series is one of the more important series of recent times. “All series are important series. But this one is important because it’s a series between two teams that have had good recent records, which gives it a bit more context.”We won in England last time, so from that point of view England will want to do better this time,” he said.For India, the key would be the pacers, as was the case the last time when India won 1-0 in England.According to Dravid, if India can keep their fast bowlers fit, it would add another dimension to the team. “It’s a hard one to call. England are playing at home, so they have that advantage. We’re a good side, a settled side, and we’ve been playing good cricket over the last couple of years. If we can keep our fast bowlers fit, then we’ll be very competitive.” Looking back at his Test career which has lasted 15 years, Dravid said the highlight of it has been India’s rise as the world’s best Test team.”I’m really proud that India is the No. 1 Test team. I’ve seen Indian cricket since 1996 and to be part of this journey and to see India become the No. 1 Test team – not just for a short period of time because we’ve now been there for more than a year – it’s something I’m very proud of.” The first Test begins at Lord’s on July 21.