Mamata’s winning strokes

The video footage of chief minister Mamata Banerjee playing badminton last week at Bolpur that went viral in no time refurbishes her image as a keen sports enthusiast whose physical fitness is cause for envy for many young people. She undergoes regular fitness regimes and takes strolls whenever she finds time. Even when she is on a foreign trip she takes to walking to keep herself fit. In fact bureaucrats, policemen, politicians and even scribes even dread her invite to accompany her in her strolls as they find it difficult to keep pace with her speed. The chief minister who has taken several measures to promote sports and games in the state has initiated football tournaments like Jungle Mahal Cup or Sunderbans Cup to promote not only sports but harmony and camaraderie in society. Not only badminton, Mamata takes keen interest in several other sports like cricket, football, hockey, to name a few. There are examples of some of her predecessors who too were avid sports enthusiasts and took part in games and sports during their salad days. Mamata's immediate predecessor Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee is one of them. He played good cricket during his youth but he had to give up the game because of persistent eye ailments. Bhattacharjee however courted controversy when he took interest in CAB elections and rooted for Prasoon Mukherjee, then Kolkata police commissioner who contested against Jagmohan Dalmiya for the post of CAB president. The victory of Dalmiya pained the former chief minister so much that he called it `victory of evil forces.’  Another remarkable sportsman chief minister was Siddhartha Shankar Ray who was a very good cricketer and played in competitive cricket tournaments in his student life. Ray was instrumental in getting the International Table Tennis championship organised in this city in 1975 and got the Netaji Indoor Stadium constructed in Kolkata to host the tournament. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also a fitness freak who regularly takes yoga exercise to keep him fit. And it was mainly his efforts that led the United Nations to declare June 21 as the International Yoga Day Congress President Rajiv Gandhi too reportedly regularly visits a gym to go in for physical exercise. In the West and the US heads of states and political leaders take keen interest in sports and spend their weekends playing golf or some other game.

Sunday, 6 January, 2019