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Mamata hits out at Meghalaya Governor for East Bengal comment

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Kolkata, Aug 1: Referring to Meghalaya Governor Tathagata Roy's recent tweet in which he asked whether it was appropriate for people of West Bengal to be supporters of East Bengal football club, which is celebrating its centenary this year, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday said that it was "disrespectful" to think in that manner and that she felt "ashamed" after hearing the remark.

"East Bengal Athletic Club (basically soccer) is celebrating its centenary. Has it struck its office-bearers or any of its supporters why they are supporting East Bengal while sitting in West Bengal?" Roy had said on his official Twitter handle, sparking a controversy.

Later, in another tweet, he said, "Abuses pouring in, basically due to lack of understanding. Many of us have forgotten our East Bengali roots, but support the club of that name. The fact that I support East Bengal while sitting in West Bengal shd constantly remind me that we were driven out because of our religion."

Mamata, who was the chief patron at East Bengal's foundation day programme on the centenary celebrations, hit back at the Meghalaya Governor, a former President of the state unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

"After listening to this, I felt very ashamed. Some people feel people from East Bengal can only support the club. There is difference between people of West Bengal and East Bengal," Mamata said in her address.

"Just because I was born in this part of Bengal, it does not mean that I cannot love East Bengal. This is disrespecting East Bengal. I feel these relationships are beyond geographic boundaries. East Bengal have fans all over the world.

"We are proud of East Bengal, Mohun Bagan and Mohammedan Sporting and their supporters. They support the clubs with their lives and they don't tolerate their clubs being disrespected. I have come to salute you on this historic occasion. The programme will continue for the next one year," she added.

The foundation day programme saw a glut of stars, including former India cricket captains Kapil Dev and Sourav Ganguly, sharing the dias with football icons Bhaichung Bhutia and Sunil Chhetri.

The centenary celebrations that began with a big torch rally from Kumartuli Park to the club lawn on July 28 will continue till next year.

"It is a historic occasion. We welcome Kapil Dev to Bengal," Mamata said while welcoming India's first World Cup winning captain who was bestowed with East Bengal's highest honour Bharat Gaurav.

Banerjee added that the West Bengal government has plans to felicitate the club separately during the course of the centenary year celebrations.

"I will tell (state sports minister) Aroop Biswas that our sports department will felicitate East Bengal club. We are all together, it's a joint and united family," she said.

Mamata further said that it was a proud moment for the state to host the 129th edition of Durand Cup for the first time.

"Durand Cup is starting from tomorrow and taking place for the first time in Bengal. I welcome all to come and watch the matches," she said. 

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