Springing a surprise akin to his moves on the midfield, Mehtab Hossain, former captain of Bengal’s biggest football teams and archrivals, East Bengal and Mohun Bagan, left the Bharatiya Janata Party on Wednesday, less than 24 hours after joining it.
Shortly after Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday targeted the BJP from the virtual rally of Martyrs’ Day, her party’s biggest annual event, Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh made a point by handing over the party flag to Hossain and some other personalities from different fields. “I joined the BJP because I want to serve the people,” said Hossain.
The news made headlines in Bengal because Hossain has a huge fan following although he left the field a year ago. His joining was arranged by another former midfielder Sasthi Duley, who helped East Bengal win the ASEAN Cup in Indonesia in 2003 and joined the BJP in 2014 after retirement.
On Wednesday afternoon, Hossain wrote a long note on Facebook saying his family and fans could not accept his “sudden decision.” Reiterating that his sole aim was to do something for common people, Hossain wrote, “The people, in whose interest I joined politics, are now urging me to leave it. Even my wife and children are not supporting my sudden decision.” He did not name the BJP even once.
“I would rather remain among my fans and friends as the midfielder they knew. I don’t want my life to change. I am not part of any political party from today,” wrote Hossain.
By the evening, the post was widely shared,
Dilip Ghosh said Hossain left under pressure from the TMC. “It is possible that the people he is referring to owe their allegiance to the ruling party and pressured him to change his mind. However, I am sure Hossain will stay in touch with us,” said Ghosh.
Duley who unsuccessfully contested the reserved Dhanekhali assembly seat in 2016, said, “It was Hossain who wanted to join the BJP and requested me to introduce him to Dilip Ghosh one month ago. They met twice before he joined the party.”
“His decision to join was well thought and cannot be called sudden. His wife and family knew about it very well. He must be under pressure from some quarter,” Duley told HT.
“Hossain’s volte face is faster than any move a footballer can make on the field,” quipped Duley.
No TMC leader commented on the incident.
Hossain’s phone was switched off throughout the day.