Ranchi, Oct 11: Jharkhand may not have expressed Mahendra Singh Dhoni's state connections but no one in the ruling establishment, least of all the chief minister, is willing to admit it.
Being questioned about the Brand Ambassador of Jharkhand, Arjun Munda was clearly on the backfoot putting the burden on "busy" Dhoni and appealing to his sense of duty towards his home state for volunteering for the job.
"I already consider him the brand ambassador of Jharkhand as he has brought the state on the global map," revealed Munda. "But being the son of the state, it is also his duty to do something for Jharkhand," he told The Telegraph. Jharkhand had perhaps underestimated Dhoni's draw and restricted his role to promoting the state's ample forest wealth.
"We planned to felicitate Dhoni for the World Cup victory along with all the athletes who had bagged medals for the state during the 34th National Games on a single stage. But we are yet to get a date from him, Dhoni, he took pains to add, happened to be the first player from undivided Bihar to lead the Indian cricket team, thus creating a suitable environment for developing sports, particularly cricket, in the state," he pointed out.
Munda's arch rival Babulal Marandi sensed an opportunity and blamed the state government for not making the best use of Jharkhand's most famous son.
"It is a pity that Madhu Koda appointed a little known Bollywood starlet as brand ambassador of Jharkhand and Shibu Soren also did nothing to tap the potential of Dhoni, a local boy with a global face," Marandi said, Bollywood actress Koena Mitra was appointed as the brand ambassador of Jharkhand by diaspora magazine.
Dhoni, who was in Ranchi in June for a felicitation ceremony for winning the World Cup, said his association with Jharkhand would help promote sports in the state.
Team Indian skipper was offered five acres of land for a state-of-the-art sports academy, ""I always wanted to do something for sports in this state and I am grateful that the government has agreed to give me land to fulfil my dream."
The June felicitation was organized in a hurry at the residence of deputy chief minister Sudesh Mahto, as the chief minister was out of the country.
Thereafter, the state's art, culture, sports and youth affairs department, which is under Mahto, had also initiated a search for a suitable plot and activated the Ranchi district administration.
But, so far no land has been identified for Dhoni.
Ranchi deputy commissioner K.K. Soan claimed the administration hadn't given up. "We have the land, but first we want to find out informally about its suitability for Dhoni's sports academy. We will make a formal offer to Dhoni soon," he promised.