A controversial build-up notwithstanding, the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) on Monday unveiled the statue of its former president Arun Jaitley at its premises in the memory of the late administrator and political figure.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah unveiled Jaitley's life-size statue, prepared by 96-year-old renowned sculptor Ram Sutar, the man behind the making of the iconic Statue of Unity in Gujarat.
Former India cricketer Bishen Singh Bedi had severely criticised the DDCA for choosing to install the statue of an administrator instead of an inspirational cricketer and even demanded that his name be removed from one the stands at the Feroze Shah Kotla ground.
BCCI President and former India captain Sourav Ganguly, India opener Shikhar Dhawan, ex India opener Gautam Gambhir, who is also a BJP MP from Delhi, BCCI Vice President Rajeev Shukla and Union Minister Hardeep Puri attended the unveiling ceremony along with a number of DDCA officials.
"Arun was like an elder brother to me. He was known for his sportsmanship spirit in political circle. He remained aggressive in his speeches but never lowered the dignity of the Parliament," Shah said in his tribute to Jaitley, who remained DDCA President for 13 years.
"Arun always put his own interest at the back, never sought publicity and rose during the Emergency days when he spent 19 months in jail. His political journey started then. He was multi-talented and fulfilled a range of responsibilities." Ganguly said Jaitley's contribution was immense in the development of cricket in Delhi, though the DDCA has been in "turmoil" for some time.
"When we play and get 100, it gets recognition but lot of people work behind the scene and help the cricketers. He was a cricketer's person. that is the role of an administrator," he said.
"I remember a phone call (he) made during the 2003 World Cup in South Africa. We had lost the first game and the whole country went berserk but he (Jaitley) said that association supports you and you play well. These small things matter, he was a great human being," said Ganguly.
"This is a remarkably talented state which has produced so many players, Virat Kohli, Ishant Sharma, Rishabh Pant now and many in the past. A settled DDCA is good thing for Indian cricket and hopefully they can do it." Gambhir said the installation of Jailtely's statue is a perfect tribute to him.
"We won the Ranji trophy during his tenure and the stadium was also built. Honesty, (being) intellectual and absolute transparency are important for any administrator and he had that," said Gambhir.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday paid tributes to his former cabinet colleague and late BJP leader Arun Jaitley on his birth anniversary, and said his warm personality, intellect, legal acumen and wit are missed by all those he closely interacted with.
Other BJP leaders also remembered the former finance minister who for many years remained the most articulate party voice on a gamut of issues and was considered one of its sharpest political minds.
(With inputs from PTI)