KOLKATA: West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee’s decision to help East Bengal football club to get a sponsor to secure an Indian Super League (ISL) berth is seen as a smart move to win the hearts of Bengali refugees migrated from Bangladesh.
West Bengal’s two top football clubs — East Bengal and Mohun Bagan — represent the geographical and linguistic identity of their supporters.
East Bengal, established in 1920, comprises lakhs of supporters whose ancestors had migrated from erstwhile East Pakistan.
In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP made deep inroads into the pockets dominated by refugees migrated from Bangladesh.
The saffron party is desperate to keep the vote bank under its fold by showcasing NRC and CAA.
“The CM’s success in helping the iconic East Bengal get a sponsor is a smart move that has put our party ahead of the BJP in the state. Lakhs of supporters of the club were unhappy when its earlier sponsor had backed out in March. She brought their smile back,’’ said a senior Trinamool Congress leader.