Kolkata, March 13: Baichung Bhutia, the former Indian football captain, who has been fielded by the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) for the upcoming West Bengal elections, forgot about his campaigning after finding a football ground where young footballers were having their practice.
The incident happened in Siliguri from where Bhutia has been fielded against heavyweight CPI(M) leader and former state minister Ashok Bhattacharya, Bengali daily Ei Samay reported.
According to the report, a local TMC leader had taken Bhutia to a club in Siliguri on Friday morning when youngsters were practising. The objective was to connect to the local voters who were present there.
Baichung, who came in a sporting gear, did some elementary talking with a few local leaders, hoisted the TMC flag in a nearby party unit but then forgot everything to start football practice.
The trainee footballers also utilised the occasion to learn a few tips from the former ace footballer. The local people also stopped seeing Bhutia. A few youngsters also took selfies with him.
"A deliberate strategy"
But although the TMC leader who took Bhutia to the ground later regretted that he forgot the election campaigning after getting the football, sources close to the former national captain said it was a strategy that Bhutia deliberately used to get close to the people, the report added.
Bhutia, however, did not remark on this and just said his campaigning will start after the visit by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to North Bengal.
Bhutia had also contested the 2014 Lok Sabha election from Darjeeling but lost to BJP's SS Ahluwalia.
Bengal will go to a seven-phase polling between April 4 and May 5. The results will be declared on May 19.