Shah Alam Shaikh, 39, is a much sought-after man after he successfully managed to coax chief minister Prithviraj Chavan to join the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA). The owner of the Mazgaon Cricket Club may not be a towering personality, but he has sent tremors in the association with his powerful moves.
Having brought Vilasrao Deshmukh to Mumbai’s cricket politics in 2009, Shaikh convinced Chavan to join the bandwagon on Monday. On Tuesday the last day of appointing representatives of the clubs he sprung another surprise by bringing in BJP leader Gopinath Munde to the Stylo Cricket Club his second club.
As of now it’s not clear if Chavan would contest for the MCA president’s post against Sharad Pawar in the biennial elections on October 18, but Shaikh has seen to it that the CM remains in the scheme of things by making him a representative of his Mazgaon Cricket Club. Shaikh’s ‘Chavan move’ has made him the talking point in Mumbai.
“Shaikh likes to be in the company of the influential. It gives him a high,” his friend told dna.
On his decision to get Chavan on board, Shaikh said: “I didn’t want a small figure to replace a towering personality like Deshmukh sahab. I thought only Chavan sahab would be a perfect replacement for him. I am thankful to him that he chose to represent our club in the MCA. It has added to the reputation of my club.”
Since Deshmukh’s demise last year, people had been guessing the name of the person likely to replace the late Union minister. “I will tell you when the time is right,” Shaikh would answer.
“Chavan’s character is clean and he is a good administrator. That is why I wanted him to be part of the Mazgaon club,” Shaikh said.
Brought up on the “maidans” of the city, Shaikh is a well-known figure at Azad Maidan, where once his father, Sadruddin Sharbatwala, used to sell ice-lollies to cricketers. Shaikh’s fascination with politics and politicians began when he was in Elphinstone College. He was secretary of the National Students’ Union of India before joining the Youth Congress. Shaikh is now member of the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee.
“My father brought me to Mumbai from Azamgarh in UP in 1980 and we lived in a hutment at Azad Maidan. I used to play school, college and club cricket,” Shaikh told dna.
His first brush with MCA politics began in 1999. “I first got associated with the MCA in 1997 as a housekeeping contractor.
After I got to know MCA politics, I bought two clubs in 1999-2000.
That’s how I got associated with the game which I love dearly. My uncle was a groundsman at Azad Maidan,” he said.
Shaikh stood in the managing committee elections for the first time last year, but lost. He intends to make amends this year. “He is a go-getter. He loves to be in the limelight and knows how to draw attention towards him. He doesn’t lose any opportunity to be seen. You will find him raise some issue or the other,” said a club member of the MCA.