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Diehard Tirkey in Didi slippers

Ranchi, March 24: Trinamul Congress’s Ranchi nominee Bandhu Tirkey is following in the footsteps of party boss Mamata Banerjee, literally.

When Tirkey arrived at the Ranchi collectorate to file his nomination papers for the Lok Sabha elections around 12.30pm today, he was wearing a brand new pair of blue rubber chappals, made famous by the Bengal chief minister.

Accompanying him were the party’s Rajya Sabha MP Derek O’Brien, Bengal water resource minister Saumen Kumar Mahapatra and hundreds of supporters.

Sources said the sitting Mandar MLA had ordered the slippers a few days ago specially for this day.

Jab hamara neta chappal me pura desh ghumti hai, to ham to bas ek sipahi hai (When our leader can travel across the country in slippers, why cannot we as mere soldiers)?” he smiled.

Dekho aisa hai, bade logon ki achchhi adadtoka anukaran karna chahiye. Hum bhi wahi kar rahe hain (Look, we should imbibe the good habits of great people. I am doing just that),” he added.

The Trinamul newbie’s close aides confided that Tirkey had an obsession with branded shoes, especially white ones, and never before he was seen in casual footwear in public, not even on the day (March 4) when he had merged his party Jharkhand Janadhikar Manch with the TMC.

But he sung a different tune now.

“I feel comfortable in chappals. And do you know that half of the tribal and poor people in Jharkhand remain barefoot because they cannot afford even rubber chappals,” Tirkey said, trying to strike a chord with the state’s poor electorate.

But will he continue to wear rubber slippers on the hot and dusty campaign trail? “I hope so. In his formative days in politics, he used to wear chappals. Now he has returned to his old style,” said Ajam Ahmed, a close aide.

“But it’s true that the lifestyle of Mamatadi has inspired him towards simplicity.”

Those who know Tirkey and his rise in politics will vouch that he is quick to pick habits of his political mentors. From being a small time leader, Tirkey rose to prominence in 2002, riding the domicile controversy in Jharkhand.

Before Mamata, former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad had inspired him. He even courted controversies due to his blunt language and wrong choice of words, a habit he apparently picked up from the RJD supremo.