Bhaichung Bhutia left Trinamul Congress, BJP invites, sikkim abuzz

Trinamool congress leader Bhaichung Bhutia quits party
Siliguri: Former footballer Bhaichung Bhutia on Monday quit the Trinamul Congress - an announcement that came as a relief for party leaders in north Bengal who believed he was not serious about politics and was thrust on them by the central leadership.
While the BJP has welcomed him to the party, a section of observers thinks Bhaichung will continue to be in the political arena, this time in his home state Sikkim.
"As of today I have officially resigned from the membership and all the official and political posts of All India Trinamool Congress party. I am no longer a member or associated with any political party in India," reads a tweet posted by the former Indian football captain on Monday morning.
Bhaichung's cellphone remained switched off throughout the day and he couldn't be contacted.
After joining Trinamul, Bhaichung was fielded in Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat in 2014 against S.S. Ahluwalia of the BJP. He was defeated by a margin of around two lakh votes and contested again as a Trinamul candidate against CPM leader Asok Bhattacharya in Siliguri in the 2016 Assembly polls.
"Despite the two defeats, Bhaichung enjoyed the blessings of Mamata Banerjee," said a Trinamul insider.
Bhaichung was also made the chairman of the North Bengal Board for Development of Sports and Games in June 2016. In changed circumstances, its not known if he will continue to head the board.
However, since the end of 2016, Bhaichung was hardly visible in Trinamul programmes.

"It would not be an exaggeration to call Bhaichung a migratory bird. He was never into active politics and did not participate in day-to-day activities," said a Trinamul leader in Siliguri.
He was relieved that the ex-soccer player was no longer associated with the ruling party.
"We had tried to convince state Trinamul leaders that we were sceptical about his seriousness in continuing in Trinamul. But our view was never heeded and now, it has been proved that he was least interested in politics. His resignation is good in a sense that his name would not be thrust on us as a candidate in future. Above all, the state leaders will think twice before parachuting people with apolitical background into electoral fray in Siliguri or the Darjeeling hills," the leader said.
Asked about Bhaichung's resignation, Trinamul secretary general Partha Chatterjee said: "We cannot make comment on the basis of any tweet. So far, he has not informed the party about his decision."
Since the end of last year, Sikkim had been agog with speculations that Bhaichung would enter state politics. The former football star had, however, kept mum.
But the rumour mill went into overdrive that Bhaichung would try his political luck in Sikkim when he told a Gangtok daily about a week ago that he would be working in the interest of the people of the Himalayan state.
Bhaichung's remark assumed all the more importance as Sikkim Democratic Front leader and state forest minister Tshering Wangdi Lepcha had welcomed the footballer to join the state politics.
The BJP has welcomed Bhaichung's resignation with a potshot at the ruling party.
"Any person who is conscious of his self-respect and righteousness cannot stay in Trinamul. It is for Bhaichung to decide what he would do next. But if he plans to join the BJP, we will welcome him," said BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha. 

(From The Telegraph)

 Sikkim abuzz as Bhaichung quits TMC

Former Indian football skipper Bhaichung Bhutia has announced he has stepped down as a member of the All India Trinamul Congress.

“I resigned from the membership and all the official and political posts of the All India Trinamool Congress party. I am no longer a member or associated with any political party in India,” the ace footballer who tried his hand in at least two elections as Trinamool candidate in Bengal, said in his official Facebook page.

The development created a flutter in the political circles, even as guesswork started as to what the local man was up to. Even as efforts to contact him through various means failed on Monday, as he is vacationing out of the country, sources close to Mr Bhutia confirmed the development and said he has “plans of coming back to Sikkim and promoting sports as well as be a part of Sikkim’s politics in the future.”

“Bhaichung was not under any pressure from the TMC, and he left the party on his own will,” sources said.

However, observers said the footballer may have quit the Bengal party as he was under pressure, “not from the Trinamul, but back home,” especially after Trinamul Congress chief and Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee accused the Sikkim government of fomenting unrest in the neighbouring Hills of Darjeeling and Kalimpong.

Rumours mills, too, kept churning the whole day on Monday, with some saying “Bhaichung’s homecoming would either mean he is floating a new political party, or joining a prominent party here.”

Amid this, state BJP president DB Chauhan expressed hope that Mr Bhutia would join the saffron party.

“We welcome Bhaichung’s decision and are hopeful he joins the BJP, as he is our hero, our idol. He shares good relations with our leaders at the Centre. He is a national figure and it will be an honour to have him in our party,” Mr Chauhan said.

Minister of state for home affairs and BJP leader Kiren Rijiju was also quick to tweet, “Football icon & former Indian captain Baichung Bhutia’s resignation from TMC was expected. He told me he has high regards for Mamata Banerjee but was unable to cope with the situation. He desires to do more for Football & Sikkim. My best wishes to Bhaichung for his future endeavour.”

Mr Bhutia, 41, retired from professional football in 2011, and in 2013 he took a plunge into politics by joining the Trinamul Congress and contested elections twice in Darjeeling and Siliguri.

He lost both the times. He lost the 2014 Lok Sabha elections in Darjeeling to BJP’s SS Ahluwalia by a huge margin. Two years later, the ace striker contested the Bengal Assembly elections from Siliguri and lost to CPM candidate Asok Bhattacharya.(SNS)

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