Ahmedabad: A day after scoring a decisive win in the by-elections and silencing those who claimed his magic was fading away, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is getting ready to start a new innings – this time as the boss of the Gujarat Cricket Association (GCA).
For Modi, who desperately wants to be seen as more than just a Hindutva icon, this new assignment seems an ideal route to gaining greater political acceptance. And Modi has already begun talking like a cricket administrator.
"There's a lot of activity in cricket beyond the bat and ball. We need to professionalise various aspects of cricket. And have an integrated approach towards development of sport,” Modi said.
Modi's new appointment ends the Congress's dominance of cricket administration in the state.
Former state Congress President Narhari Amin had managed the association for many years but led by Modi's Man Friday and state Home Minister Amit Shah, the BJP made a determined bid to capture control of the state cricket body.
"Modi is capable of playing any role and this is good for Gujarat,” Vice-President, GCA, Amit Shah said.
Modi, infact, is only following a trend set by politicians across parties. For example, BJP's Arun Jaitley heads Delhi cricket and the party’s MP Anurag Thakur is in charge in Himachal.
The Congress's Jyotiraditya Scindia heads Madhya Pradesh while party MP Rajiv Shukla is board vice-president. Union Minister Farooq Abudllah heads J-K while former Assam chief minister Prafulla Mahanta is in charge of Assam.
Sharad Pawar, of the NCP, is, of course, the big boss of the board.
Given Modi's clout in Gujarat, most board administrators seem to have accepted him in the new post.
Former secretary, BCCI, Niranjan Shah said, “I'm sure that with new infrastructure and ideas being planned, players from Gujarat will benefit a lot."
For Modi, cricket is yet another boundary that has to be crossed as part of his image makeover. By taking over the reins of the GCA, Modi seems determined to show that he too can play with the big boys of sport administration.