A day after he accepted West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's offer to be a Trinamool Congress candidate for the Lok Sabha from Darjeeling, former India football captain Bhaichung Bhutia has unfolded his vision to serve the people of the hill region.
"The enormity of the work I have to do has sunk in and I have to get cracking straightaway," Bhutia told IANS on Thursday.
"At this point, all I can do is to promise to work for the development of the hills with sincerity and honesty. I can assure the people of Darjeeling that I will not fail for want of effort." (Watch video)
Appreciating Mamata Banerjee's effort to address the issues raised by the people of Darjeeling region, the former India football captain said he was humbled by the confidence she has reposed in him and promised not to let her down.
"It is a great honour for me and I am grateful to Ms Banerjee for giving me this opportunity to contest the general election. I would work hard to serve the people in the constituency with honesty and transparency," said the man from Sikkim.
Bhutia was all praise for Banerjee's delicate handling of the Gorkhaland movement that threatened peace in Darjeeling last year. The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has been agitating for a separate statehood for Darjeeling.
"Let us admit that Darjeeling has been neglected and that is the reason why they are demanding different things. There has been no development in the hills. But thanks to the chief minister, there is now some peace in the area. There is a lot of potential in Darjeeling, be it tourism or tea gardens. I would like to work honestly for the development of the area," he said.
Bhutia revealed that he was given the offer two months ago.
"Two months ago I was given the offer and I finally decided to take the plunge into active politics," he said.
Bhutia hoped his mass fan-following would help him connect with the voters instantly.
"I hope my fan-following works. But it will always be a difficult task," he said.
The football star also hoped that if he wins the elections, it would also help him to work for the development of sports in the country.
"I would also like to work for the development of sports in the country. It would be a great opportunity to work on several issues," he said.