KOLKATA: A day after joining the BJP, former Indian footballer Mehtab Hossain on Wednesday said he was not associated with any political party.
Hossain, known as the "Midfield General" in the Kolkata Maidan, said it was a personal decision to quit politics as he was left shattered by the pain and feelings of his family and well-wishers over his sudden move to join a political party.
The former East Bengal captain was handed the BJP flag by the party's state president Dilip Ghosh on Tuesday at its Muralidhar Sen Lane office amid chants of "Bharat Mata Ki Jai".
"I am not associated with any political party from today. I apologise to all my well-wishers for this decision of mine," Hossain said in a Facebook post.
"No one has forced me to take this decision. This is completely my personal decision to stay away from politics," he added.
Hossain, who has played 30 matches for India and scored two goals, said he joined politics as he wanted to reach more people.
"In these trying times, I wanted to be with the people. Those helpless faces have taken away my sleep. That is why I suddenly joined politics."
"But the people for whom I wanted to serve as a politician said I should not have joined politics.
They did not want to see me as a politician," he said.
Hossain, who quit football after playing for Mohunbagan in the 2018-19 season, said even his wife and children were hurt as he joined politics.
"My family (wife) Moumita and children Zidan and Zavvi, none supported this sudden decision of mine. They too were hurt by my decision like my friends and supporters. All of them are part of my family and I was left shattered looking at their sad faces."
"The 'Midfield General' title given to me by my fans is much closer to me than any other position. There is no hatred for anyone, no anger or animosity," he said.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alleged that Hossain's U-turn was due to "threats and intimidation" from the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) in West Bengal.
"This is the result of TMC's threat-and-intimidation politics. We have seen such things before as well. But more the TMC indulges in such tricks, more it would lose public support," BJP secretary-general Sayantan Basu said.
State vice president of the saffron party Jaiprakash Majumdar said such instances point towards the "lawless situation" in West Bengal.
TMC secretary-general Partha Chatterjee dismissed the allegations as baseless.