Not just a slogan: 'Khela Hobe' now a football event

Khela hobe! The most-sought phrase in Bengal politics is now a football event

Madan Mitra (second from right) at the launch of the Khela Hobe football tournament. Credit: Mohammed Safi Shamsi

'Khela hobe' or the game will happen, remained a popular slogan with political enthusiasts, primarily with the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) supporters, during West Bengal elections this year. Harping on the popularity, organisers of an upcoming football tournament in Kolkata used the slogan as the name of their event.

The announcement made in presence of senior Trinamool leader Madan Mitra generated speculation if the party was using the football event to send a subtle message to voters, weeks before elections to municipal bodies in the state.

Sarmista Acharya, one of the organisers, claimed that the event, scheduled for November 13, is purely a social initiative aimed at highlighting the importance of differently-abled sportspersons.

'Khela hobe' is claimed to have been used by a Bangladeshi politician earlier but when the state headed to elections, it turned into a war cry for TMC supporters who were responding to numerous slogans hurled by the Bharatiya Janata Party. Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other BJP leaders used the slogan Khela Hobe during their speeches.

“Being here is just to support an event being organised for the differently-abled,” Mitra told Deccan Herald. However, he minced no words while talking about Trinamool’s ambitious future walk into national politics.

“This time, the game will be dangerous. It will not be smooth. We are going to face elections in Tripura, Rajasthan, and Gujarat. TMC is ready to play. The message from Trinamool, for the BJP, is that you get ready. You are losing your players every day, who will play for you?”

The Trinamool has already sounded the bugle for its fight outside of Bengal. Tripura and Goa are the first terrains the party is keen on exploring. Many Mamata supporters see Didi, as the chief minister is known, as a future prime ministerial candidate, who can give the BJP a tough fight.

Footballer-turned-politician Alvito D’Cunha, who was also present on the occasion, said that using the phrase has more to do with popularising the event than politics. Alvito recently joined Congress Party’s Goa unit but when he updates his social media status to 'Khela hobe', people think he is joining TMC, he told DH.

The clean sweep in recent bypolls in the state has made Trinamool more confident about its ambitions but national politics will be tricky as more contenders are involved in that power play.

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