The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Prime Minister kicks off NFL
- AIFF hands over Rs 15 lakh to Relief Fund

Calcutta: The Salt Lake Stadium was a sea of security personnel Wednesday. Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh was scheduled to inaugurate the National Football League for the ONGC Cup and traffic snarls and aimless waits and body searches were scheduled as well.

The Prime Minister wasn't the only VVIP on the dais Wednesday. AIFF president and Union minister Priya Ranjan Das Munshi had gathered ' along with the sponsorship of the league from ONGC chairman Subir Raha's table ' defence minister Pranab Mukherjee, state governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi, chief minister Buddhadev Bhattacharjee as well as the PM's wife, Mrs Amrit Kaur.

Parts of the stands were off limits for the public and of the ones that were, 50,000-odd warmed up to the celebration.

The PM declared the meet open after garlanding a portrait of Cristiano de Lima Junior, for whose benefit this match was, and then gave a small speech. He also handed over the Fifa's centenary award to PK Banerjee.

Meanwhile, Das Minshi handed the PM Rs 15 lakh for tsunami benefit for the Relief Fund from the AIFF.

The interesting part was when the PM kicked a football into the goal.

Asked later what the PM said to him, PK said: 'He said 'I am proud to present this' and I said I am proud to receive this honour from the Prime Minister of the largest democracy in the world. I said I am disappointed at not being able to take it from the hands of Fifa president Sepp Blatter, but I am honoured at our Prime Minister giving it to me now.'

PK showed off the shining medals proudly.

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