LNTUP

Wave of movements by East Bengal and Mohun Bagan fans preparing to take a toll of AIFF and IMG-R

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It was an evening of only a few days ago, when the news of East Bengal striking a mammoth deal with a European Breweries agency broke through. The Red and Gold fans got delighted thinking of their mother club probably going to become a part of the glamorous offspring of IMG-R and AIFF.

The Mariners were also not much adrift of hopes. The officials collecting the bid papers and news moulded with optimism coming through the news desks on a daily basis only added to the glimmer of hope of both the parties.

Rain could not spoil the march
Rain could not spoil the march

But as days rolled on and one after another meetings between the concerned authorities managed to produce nothing constructive, the fans of both the clubs were slowly shifting towards a shadow of uncertainty. The all party meeting a few days ago put the final nail to the coffin of thehope of the millions of supporters of the Kolkata giants of participating in ISL this season.

The aura of pessimism surrounding the masses automatically gave birth to anger which forced them to demarcate the ‘villain’ for their loss. Some blamed the officials, some blamed their fate, some even were courageous enough to blame themselves. But one thing that unified the two sets of supporters was their unanimous and common belief of IMG-R being the driving force and AIFF merely acting as their puppet behind this well implemented ‘professional conspiracy’.

East Bengal and Mohun Bagan-the two names which have become synonymous with ‘rivalry’ and ‘clashes’ have been thus forced to come close by the hour’s need. Sooner than later, the supporters realising their imminent dooming fortune, decided to get united and make their voices against the mal-administration of Indian football intensified.

The consequence was a birth of a new consortium made up of both East Bengal and Mohun Bagan fans, ‘Bengal Football Lovers’ Forum’ saw it’s first light on the planet. An unprecedented situation gave birth to a type of institution carrying no precedence atleast in near past in Indian football.

●VIEWPOINTS::

The Bengal Football Lovers’ Forum came into inception out of some seemingly valid points. While talking to a torchbearer of this movement led by the fans’ consortium, LNTUP came to know about their demands

The two leagues can't co-exist. One 'Top League' is the demand
The two leagues can’t co-exist. One ‘Top League’ is the demand

1. ‘One country one league’::

The fans of the Kolkata giants are reluctant to get into the parallel league system put forth by AIFF. According to them, this is just a long-term process of making I-League extinct. A country can have only one top flight league. And the relegation-promotion system must be implemented as well.

2. ‘Top League’ participation::

The fans demand AIFF and the concerned authorities to make East Bengal and Mohun Baga part of that one ‘Top league’ without any clauses. The contribution of the two clubs in Indian football is pronounced enough to make them free of any clauses of participation in the ‘Top League’ according to the followers.

3. Change in ideas and structure of ISL::

ISL is not the way to go forward. It has enormous amount of structural and technical flaws and is nearing to get stamped as a ‘farce’ according to the protesters. The new ‘Top League’ in which the two clubs need to be a part of, has to be a highly modified and well-planned version of the ongoing ISL.

●MOVEMENTS ::

The spontaneous consequence of fulfilling the demands is getting involved in a movement. In this case there is no exception. Both sets of fans led by BFLF has made their voices heard by a string of activities.

The logo of BFLF: The flame on the boat, a blend of the logos of East Bengal and Mohun Bagan. The faces on the flame tells the story!
The logo of BFLF: The flame on the boat, a blend of the logos of East Bengal and Mohun Bagan. The faces on the flame tells the story!

Recent Actions::

  • The fans operated a ‘Silent procesion’ yesterday having their mouth bound by a black lace signifying the encroachment of their freedom. Amidst heavy rains, the masses trod on unison on the heart of the ‘City of joy’, making others aware that a large part of it is not in ‘Joy’!
  • They did a picketing near the Esplanade Metro Station, the centre of the city. The fans carried several posters, leaflets etc with short messages to clarify their stands.
  • Today, the movement spread it’s wings from the capital of the state of West Bengal to its suburbs. A procession came on the streets at Halishahar, a place at the district of North 24 Parganas, led by the consortium in the afternoon. Their slogan ‘Lota Macha eksathe, Ilish Chingri ekpate..’!

Future plans::

  • On 2nd July, they are planning to take the streets of Howrah under their own rights, obviously in a peaceful fashion. A procession will be held to voice their views.
  • On 7th July, their will be a silent ‘Statutory protest’ near the Shahid Minar.

‘The Big day’:

All the movements and semi-movements will probably take its true shape on 8th July. A mega-procession will occur from Subodh Mullick Square to Rani Rashmoni Avenue near Dharmatala.

According to an important representative of BFLF,”The day will see an unprecedented scene at Kolkata. Masses will join us, people will come to the street, it will take shape in huge dimension It will no more be only football, it will will be for a social cause, our history and our existence”!

The preparations for ‘The Big day’ is already on and the protesters are making people aware in every procession about the mega-gathering on 8th July.

Analysis of LNTUP ::

After going through the above portion one may wonder about the extremist stand of the East Bengal and Mohun Bagan fans and may term it ‘premature’. The stands of the fans of Kolkata giants are obviously not free of flaws. Some may find even a contradiction in some of their demands.

But, the bottomline is that this situation was to arrive mandatorily. It’s not the seemingly ultra-passionate nature of the followers that has given rise to the situation, rather it’s the offspring of a long existing foul administration by the elite body of football in India accompanied by IMG-R recently. Their carefree attitude towards the legacy and contribution of the Indian clubs have forced the supporters to take the ultimate stand.

The movement although is totally apolitical but all the political parties have already expressed their moral backing to the clubs. The clubs although are yet reluctant to acquire political assistance for the sake of neutrality but further negative attitude from AIFF and IMG-R may force them to reach the ultimatum.

Praful Patel and Bhaichung Bhuttia: Men in the centre of rage of the fans
Praful Patel and Bhaichung Bhuttia: Men in the centre of rage of the fans

The officials of neither clubs have issued any official statement on the movement yet probably to avoid the glare of AIFF. But it does not require much dexterity to assume that the protesters have full backing from the officials indirectly.

When two prestigious institutions of Indian football and their supporters are preparing for an unprecedented assemblance, the complete silence of FPAI on the issue carries the merit to act as an eyebrow-raiser.

In a land, where football is not the centre of attention, neither Electronic, Social nor Print Media prefers to indulge themselves in a football related topic. But the current scenario carries the merit of being considered as a landmark event in Indian football in near future if properly managed.

The stage is set, the fans are ready, the unwavering chain of mass-movements taking birth from the ‘City of Joy’ may soon take the ‘Football House’ by storm. The almost century-old rivals are ready to clasp hands to declare their prominence and relevance in Indian football.