Around two months after quitting Mamata Banerjees Trinamool Congress (TMC), former Indian footballer Bhaichung Bhutia on Thursday announced he had joined the new regional ‘Hamro Sikkim Party’, saying that he felt like an outsider in TMC.
“With TMC, I was more like a celebrity than a candidate dropped from the top. There was an outsider tag when I fought elections from Darjeeling. Even if I went for a seat outside my state, I would feel like an outsider,” Bhutia said while addressing a media conference at the Press Club.
In February, Bhutia announced on Twitter his resignation from TMC which he had joined in 2013.
“I could not commit fully towards my party because I was travelling for professional purposes. I think it was unfair for me to be in a party where I could not give my full commitment. And politics is all about being with people and now I can do that,” the Arjuna Award recipient added.
The difference between Bhutia and TMC deepened during the 104-day Darjeeling strife. Bhutia had gone against the party and extended his support for the separate state of Gorkhaland.
“I did not agree with TMC’s stand on Gorkhaland issue and that is my personal decision. I stand with what I have said,” Bhutia, who used to play for East Bengal club, noted.
In 2014, Bhutia contested the Lok Sabha elections from Darjeeling but lost to BJP’s S.S. Ahluwalia. In 2016, he contested the Assembly elections from Siliguri and was defeated by CPI-M’s Ashok Bhattacharya.
Asked what made him join a new political party, Bhutia said he wanted to contribute in developing the state and realised joining a regional party will be the best step.
“I want to work for the people of Sikkim. I hope my joining politics will inspire a lot of youth, not just in Sikkim but across the country,” he said.
The Padma Shri winner also highlighted that Sikkim was overshadowed by corruption and that one of the major focus of the newly-formed party would be demanding CBI probes.
“The state is overshadowed by corruption and as per law, CBI cannot carry any investigation in Sikkim. Unemployment is another major issue. We are claiming to be an organic state but we are losing our land to pharmaceutical companies. Our target is to bring some solutions to these issues,” he stated.
Bhutia also said that he was not bothered about becoming the chief ministerial candidate nor eyeing the party presidentship.
“It’s too early to say whether I will contest or not. If the party tells me I will contest,” he mentioned.
Apart from Lok Sabha elections, Sikkim will also hold Assembly elections in 2019.