Quite An­other Ball Game

The BJP tries an­other so­cial engi­neer­ing ex­per­i­ment in the state

India Today - - STATES - —Romita Datta

Tak­ing a cue from West Ben­gal chief min­is­ter Ma­mata Ban­er­jee’s suc­cess in win­ning over youth by dis­tribut­ing gov­ern­ment grants to lo­cal sports clubs, the BJP is look­ing to woo the youth through foot­ball. The party has an­nounced the Deen­dayal Upad­hyaya Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy, a foot­ball com­pe­ti­tion through which it plans to dis­trib­ute cash prizes, sports ac­ces­sories and free tick­ets to the FIFA U-17 World Cup sched­uled from Oc­to­ber 6 to 28.

Though ev­i­dently an at­tempt to firm up its foothold in the state, BJP lead­ers in­sist their foray into sports is dif­fer­ent from what the Tri­namool Congress is do­ing. BJP youth wing pres­i­dent De­b­jit Sarkar says it’s the party’s way of re­mind­ing Ben­gal’s youth of Swami Vivekananda and Deen­dayal Upad­hyaya’s ideals.

State BJP chief Dilip Ghosh says the clubs pa­tro­n­ised by TMC have be­come dens of anti-so­cial ac­tiv­ity. “Our party will try to re­turn these clubs to the lo­cal boys by en­gag­ing them in sports and things other than pol­i­tics,” he says.

But many saf­fron lead­ers are ap­pre­hen­sive that the TMC’s hold over the sports clubs might af­fect the suc­cess of the soc­cer tour­na­ment. None­the­less, the party has started dis­tribut­ing sports kits, foot­ball shoes, jer­seys and foot­balls. It’s un­likely to match up, though, to what the TMC gov­ern­ment has planned. The state sports and youth af­fairs depart­ment will spend Rs 3.6 crore on 150,000 soc­cer balls to be handed out to the youth to cel­e­brate the FIFA U-17 World Cup fi­nal. It is a ‘special’ foot­ball de­signed by Ma­mata her­self and named ‘Joyee (vic­to­ri­ous)’.

TMC spokesman Partha Chat­ter­jee says if any­thing, “some par­ties (BJP) are copy­ing our theme”. In­deed, who bet­ter than politi­cians to play po­lit­i­cal games over soc­cer?

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.