KOLKATA: The coach has announced his name. But can former Indian soccer captain Bhaichung Bhutia contest the Assembly polls from Siliguri as a Trinamool Congress nominee? He is a voter enlisted in Sikkim. If within March 29, he cannot get his name enlisted in the voters’ list in Bengal, he has to leave the field. That is why he is now seeking to be a permanent resident in this metropolis.
Bhaichung who played for East Bengal Club for years is known as a ‘local boy’ but officially, he is a voter in Rabangla in southern Sikkim. He contested the Lok Sabha polls in 2014 from Darjeeling constituency but lost to BJP MP Surinder Singh Ahluwalia. Tragically, he could not even vote for himself as he was not a voter in West Bengal!
While nominating him, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had said, “None dared contest from Darjeeling during the Lok Sabha polls but Bhaichung agreed. Bhaichung belongs to West Bengal and does not want division of this state. He loves Bengal and will serve the masses of the Darjeeling Hills.” Bhaichung has to contest against a tough CPI(M) nominee like Siliguri mayor Ashok Bhattacharya. But Bhaichung is unfazed. “I was once a voter in Sikkim but now, I am no more a voter there. I will publicly announce where I am a voter,” he said.