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Mamata ‘true champion’ — Tennis star Leander Paes joins Trinamool in Goa ahead of 2022 polls

Leander Paes says will try to serve people through politics, adds India is about democracy, not about a particular caste or religion.

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Kolkata: Tennis star Leander Paes joined the Trinamool Congress in Goa Friday, in the presence of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. 

Banerjee after handing over the Trinamool flag to Leander, said the former doubles champion has “decided to pledge his political commitment to us, because we are a secular party”. 

Leander, who was born in Kolkata, has ties to the sunshine coastal state. His father Vece Paes is Goan, while his mother Jennifer is from Kolkata.

The tennis star paid tribute to Banerjee, and said their association began decades ago. 

“She might not be a very big woman but she is a true champion to me. Thirty years ago, when I was a 14-year-old kid, Didi encouraged and enabled me to play for the country. She was then the Union sports minister,” Leander said.

“I am grateful to her for that. In the past 30 years, I have travelled across the world, participated in all international championships including the Olympics and tried to make India proud. I have done my bit there, and with the opportunity given to me by Didi, I will try to serve people through politics. To me, India is about democracy, and not about a particular caste or religion.”

Leander added that he was born in Kolkata, but he feels responsible for the whole of India, and that is why he would like to work for Goans in Goa. “I have retired from sports; I will now work under the guidance of Didi,” he said. 

Paes joins former cricketer Manoj Tiwary and veteran footballer Prasun Banerjee, in the list of prominent sportspersons to join the party. 

Apart from Leander, veteran actor Nafisa Ali has also joined the TMC in Goa. The Trinamool’s leader in Rajya Sabha, Derek O’ Brien, who has been camping in Goa for the past two months, had met Leander and Nafisa, The Print has learnt.

‘Goa is for Goans’ 

Apart from inducting the high-profile personalities, Banerjee also reiterated that “Goa is for Goans”. 

“I may be branded an outsider here, but let me tell you, I have not come here to become your chief minister. Your government will be run by your people,” she said. “I am here to help you fight the fascist force BJP. Congress has let you down. I would request you to give us a chance to serve you.” 

Banerjee also emphasised that her party stood for secular values. “Trinamool or TMC stands for temple mosque church, and this is why all-inclusive and secular-minded people are pledging support to and joining us,” she said. 

Banerjee also refused to comment on remarks by political analyst Prashant Kishor, who slammed the Congress and said the BJP was here to stay

“I am here to fight the BJP. Why Prashant Kishor said such things, he would be able to answer. He is an ace political strategist,” Banerjee said. 

(Edited by Arun Prashanth)

Also read: What explains Kolkata’s falling fertility rate? Aspiration, financial strain, contraceptive coverage


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