Kolkata: The Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) has said Eden Gardens cannot be used to stage Ghulam Ali’s concert next week because of the damage the crowd could inflict on the ground ahead of the World T20 starting March.
Initially, Park Circus Maidan was chosen but a rethink set in after police cited security concerns. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee had then zeroed in on the Eden to host the Pakistani singer’s soiree on January 12.
CAB president Sourav Ganguly had readily agreed to the proposal from the chief minister, who had personally anointed him the cricket association boss last year, but “misgivings” expressed by several other members prompted a change of mind, sources said.
The ground has hosted cultural programmes as part of cricketing events but few could recall a soiree that had no association with the sport. “Several members were angry that the CAB president had not raised the concert proposal at the working committee meeting yesterday,” a member said.
Murlidhar Sharma, Calcutta police deputy commissioner (south), met Ganguly on Thursday evening and the CAB president conveyed to the officer that it would not be possible to stage the concert since the World T20 was round the corner. “We are not staging the concert,” Ganguly said later.
“I told the DC South, the WBMDFC (West Bengal Minorities Development and Finance Corporation) and Mr Sultan Ahmed (the Trinamul MP who heads the corporation) that it won’t be possible to stage this programme. I will also inform Madam (chief minister) about it. The World T20 matches are coming up. So, for staging such a programme, we might lose those matches. Besides, the ICC will also be doing a recce of the ground on the 15th of this month. So, we cannot afford to take risks,” Ganguly added.
Following Ganguly’s nod yesterday, plans had been drawn up for the Eden show. A dais was to be erected facing the Club House. Between 30,000 and 32,000 passes – around half the capacity at Eden -would have been issued.
On January 5, Trinamul spokesperson Derek O’Brien had tweeted: “#Kolkata #Breaking Ghulam Ali and his son to perform in the city on Jan 12 at Park Circus Maidan….”
But the police expressed concern about the “open” venue. Eden is as open-air as Park Circus Maidan but it has gates that can be bolted. Police officers said they were wary of a concert by a widely popular singer at a place where access could not be controlled.
There was no formal meeting scheduled at the CAB on Thursday and none was held but the concert was the topic of discussion through the day. “It is not usual for a person of Sourav’s standing to go back on a decision that has already become public. But he read the pulse of the situation and backed out,” said a source.
Some members of the association expressed concern that Calcutta could be deprived of yet another World Cup encounter if the Eden failed to pass the ICC test. In the World T20 in March-April, Eden is scheduled to host five games, including the men’s and women’s finals.
“We were worried the dais that would come up and chairs that would probably be placed on the ground for VIPs would damage the outfield and the bowlers’ run-ups,” the official said.