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‘As confident as I was on the pitch’

New Delhi: Nominated by the Trinamool Congress (TMC) to contest from the Darjeeling constituency in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, Bhaichung Bhutia said he was confident of winning the important seat.

“I feel as confident as I used to be on the soccer pitch during my playing days,” Bhaichung told The Telegraph. “Talks had been going on with the TMC leaders for sometime about contesting in the elections from Darjeeling. Today (Wednesday), I finally received the news from the senior party functionary, Mukul Roy,” added the ace striker, who led India for a record number of 11 years in a row including two Asian Games.

Politics, Bhaichung admitted, had not been his area of interest initially. “At the same time, I had been involved with lots of social work even during my playing days in Calcutta and Sikkim. So, I have some experience in this field. I was inspired by the chief minister Mamata Banerjee in this case. She is my leader and role model.”

Bhaichung is not the only footballer to figure in the list of Trinamool Congress candidates for the Lok Sabha polls. Another former India captain, Prasun Banerjee, has once again been nominated for the Howrah constituency. Banerjee, a top midfielder during 1970s and 1980s, is the sitting member from Howrah.

Bhaichung described Darjeeling as a constituency with huge potential. “Nurtured properly, Darjeeling could be one of the most prosperous places in the country. My plan is to work for the masses and look into their problems including those of the tea garden workers,” he said.