Meghalaya governor's remarks about East Bengal disrespectful: Mamata Banerjee
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee hit out at Meghalaya governor Tathagata Roy on Thursday, saying his remarks about the East Bengal football club were "disrespectful". Roy had kicked up a controversy on Tuesday when he asked East Bengal supporters if they had ever wondered why they were with that club while being in West Bengal.
"East Bengal Athletic Club (basically soccer) is celebrating its centenary. Has it struck its office-bearers or any of its supporters why they are supporting East Bengal while sitting in West Bengal?" he had asked. Banerjee, who was the chief patron at the club's centenary celebrations here, took the occasion to give it back to the Meghalaya governor, a former president of the state Bharatiya Janata Party. "After listening to this, I have felt very ashamed," Banerjee said. "We are proud of East Bengal, Mohun Bagan and Mohammedan Sporting and their supporters," she said, adding that the people support the clubs with their lives and they do not tolerate the club being disrespected.
Roy had clarified that what he meant was people were driven out of East Bengal (now Bangladesh) "because of our religion". "Some people feel people from East Bengal can only support the club. There is the difference between people of West Bengal and East Bengal," Banerjee said. She said these relationships were beyond all geographic boundaries. "Just because I was born in this part of Bengal, it does not mean that I am not East Bengal. Or I cannot love East Bengal. This is disrespecting East Bengal," the chief minister said. Describing the occasion as "historic", Banerjee said the centenary year programmes would continue for a year.
The foundation day event on Thursday saw a galaxy of stars, with India's two iconic former cricket captains, Kapil Dev, and Sourav Ganguly, sharing the dais with football legends Bhaichung Bhutia and Sunil Chhetri. Kapil Dev, India's first World Cup-winning captain, received East Bengal's highest honour, 'Bharat Gaurav'.
The centenary celebrations began on Sunday with a big torch rally from their origin Kumartuli Park to the club lawns, and it will continue till next year. Banerjee said the West Bengal government had plans to felicitate the club separately during the course of the celebrations. The chief minister also said it was a proud moment for the state to host the 129th edition of the Durand Cup. "Durand Cup is starting from tomorrow and taking place for the first time in Bengal. I welcome all to go and watch," she added. Share to Twitter