Kolkata, March 20 (IANS) West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee claimed on Monday that she had suggested industrialist Sanjiv Goenka to remove the ‘ATK’ tag from Mohun Bagan, the Kolkata football giant which annexed the Indian Super League (ISL) title by defeating Bengaluru FC in the final on Sunday.
“I asked Sanjiv Goenka why is the ATK tag there before Mohun Bagan. ATK Mohun Bagan does not sound good. Just Mohun Bagan sounds much better,” the Chief Minister said while addressing an event at the tent of the iconic club here, organised to felicitate the members of the ISL champion team.
The principal club owner and Chairman of RPSG Group, Sanjiv Goenka, had announced after the victory that ATK Mohun Bagan will be rebranded as Mohun Bagan Super Giants at the end of the ongoing 2022-23 session.
Banerjee also announced a one-time state government grant of Rs 50 lakh for the development of the club.
Political observers, meanwhile, termed the remarks of the Chief Minister as a subtle political stroke to win the hearts of the lakhs of supporters of the oldest football club in the country.
In fact, after the erstwhile Mohun Bagan Athletic Club was rechristened as ATK Mohun Bagan following the merger of ATK FC with the football section of Mohun Bagan, there was a major uproar by the diehard supporters of the club.
“By commenting on the name of the club, the Chief Minister actually tried to tap sentiments of those supporters,” a political observer said.
This is not the first time that the Chief Minister has made an attempt to woo the football sentiment politically. When Sanjib Goenka purchased 80 per cent stake of ATK Mohun Bagan in January 2020, the club’s arch-rivals East Bengal could not participate in ISL because of lack of sponsors. East Bengal’s crisis deepened after Shree Cements returned the sporting rights to the club authorities on April 12, 2022.
At that point of time, Banerjee had intervened and finally on May 25 last year, Kolkata-based Emami Group became the new investor in East Bengal.