Mamata dribbles football at ‘Khela hobe’ programme launch; says slogan now popular across India
West Bengal chief minister said that the Trinamool Congress government granted ₹5 lakh to each of the 25,000 sporting clubs across the state.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee was seen dribbling a football at the Netaji Indoor Stadium in Kolkata on the occasion of launching “Khela Hobe Divas” on Monday. A video posted on Twitter by news agency ANI showed the Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo throwing footballs into the audience, while saying “ami kintu ball khelte pari” (I can play football).
“Believe it or not ‘Khela hobe’ has become very popular. The slogan was raised in Parliament, too, and soon it would reverberate across India,” Banerjee was quoted as saying by ANI.
During the event, Banerjee also said her government has granted ₹5 lakh each to 25,000 sporting clubs across the state. “We have done community development programmes to take sports forward. I believe to take forward ‘Khela hobe’ and we have to take it through sports,” she added.
Banerjee further said that as many as one lakh footballs would be distributed among the sporting clubs in various districts of the state.
On July 21, while addressing the media on the occasion of Martyr's Day, the chief minister announced that “Khela Divas” would be celebrated across West Bengal every year on August 16.
Banerjee also said that footballs manufactured by the state handicraft department would be handed over to various sporting clubs and children from economically-weaker section on August 16. She had also made a reference to her 2021 assembly elections’ slogan “Khela hobe”, thereby hinting at the faceoff between the TMC and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
BJP Rajya Sabha MP Swapan Dasgupta, however, equated August 16 with Muslim League’s Direct Action Day that commenced in 1946, and led to the “great Calcutta Killings.”
In retaliation, the TMC state general secretary Kunal Ghosh condemned the ruling dispensation at the Centre of “politicising a sporting event”.
During her five-day visit to Delhi recently, Banerjee held discussions and talks with many opposition leaders with the aim to oust the BJP from power at the Centre. Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi, party leader Rahul Gandhi and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal were among the significant people she met. The TMC chief also met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari.
Also Read | Mamata Banerjee meets Arvind Kejriwal in Delhi
While in Delhi, Banerjee repeatedly pushed for the unity of Opposition ahead of 2024 Lok Sabha elections. The chief minister said that during the polls, the competition will be between PM Modi and the entire country.
“It is essential for everyone to come together in order to defeat the BJP. Alone, I am nothing - everyone will have to work together. I am not a leader. I am a cadre. I am a person from the street,” she added.
Also Read | 'Poore desh me khela hobe': Mamata on Opposition’s unity ahead of 2024 elections
Banerjee, however, evaded questions regarding the face of the Opposition in the 2024 general elections, saying that she is not a “political astrologer.”