KOLKATA: A plan to hold an exhibition football match on state-owned SSKM Hospital premises to please a VIP is the latest in the controversies involving the premier super-speciality institution here.
Though a no-horn zone, a small ground inside the hospital would host the match as the spectator would be none other than jailed West Bengal Sports Minister Madan Mitra.
The football match idea was floated by Prasun Banerjee, the TMC MP representing Howrah and India’s former soccer captain.
It so happened that when Prasun went to meet Madan -- he spent most of his time in the VIP Woodburn ward of the SSKM Hospital than in jail after being arrested last year by the CBI for his alleged involvement in the multi-crore Saradha chit fund scam -- the Lok Sabha MP spotted a green field there.
To please the jailed minister, a close confidant of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Prasun suggested an exhibition match between Madan Mitra XI and Prasun Banerjee XI on October 12, an auspicious date as it is ‘Mahalaya’, the ushering in of Durga Puja. “I got the idea seeing the renovated field next to the Woodburn ward, where Mitra is lodged. Journalists and some footballers will form my team, while Mitra’s team will have professional players of the state. Some foreign players may also be there. I spoke to the minister and he promised all help of the Sports Department,” said Prasun.
“Former players like Samaresh Chowdhury and Goutam Sarkar are close to Mitra and will naturally play for his team. I will try to get some foreign players, who are also Mitra’s well-wishers,” he said.
Since the field is small, Prasun has instructed the hospital authorities to construct smaller goal posts. Each side would have only nine players.
Reacting to the plan, CPM leader and physician Fuad Halim said, “Such an exhibition match is unheard of. As students, we did play football matches in hospital grounds, but then there was no shouting or loud cheering, which will happen if there is an exhibition match with such star players.”
Doctors of the SSKM Hospital, whose director Pradip Mitra was unceremoniously removed from that post for objecting to conducting dialysis of a dog belonging to a relative of TMC legislator Nirmal Majhi, said, “What is so surprising? If such absurd orders can come from a state IMA president, then football matches with women cheerleaders are also possible in a hospital that has a critical care unit with patients battling for lives.”
The minister, who has never played football, has certainly scored a goal!