He had hung up his boots but his fighting instinct is still alive. Meet former Churchill Brothers skipper Somatai Shaiza, who is back in the poll arena after unsuccessfully contesting the last assembly elections. He had fought as a Trinamool Congress candidate during the 2012 elections but this time he is contesting the polls on a BJP ticket from the Naga majority Ukhrul constituency. Incidentally, Ukhrul is the birthplace of most top leaders of the Isak-Muivah faction of Naga insurgent group National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM).
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“I am confident that people of Manipur and the constituency have full faith on the policies and governance of Narendra Modi government. So people of my constituency will vote for BJP,” Shaiza said. The 43-year-old former Churchill Brothers skipper, who also played for two other leading football clubs of the country, Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, and represented India twice in Nehru Cup.
He switched sides and joined BJP after he felt that TMC had no future in Manipur. “In 2012, the TMC won seven seats but all the party’s MLAs went to some other party. In Manipur”, if you want to fight against the misrule of Congress, then BJP is the only platform, he said.
Shaiza is up against candidates of TMC, Congress, LJP and NPF. Although, the Nagas are a majority in most of the 20 constituencies of the hills, Shaiza is confident that BJP will come out with very good results in hills.
In the last assembly polls, the ruling Congress bagged eight seats while four others went to NPF in the hills. All the NPF MLAs, including Samuel Risom the sitting MLA won from Ukhrul, resigned last year, protesting against three bills passed by the Manipur Assembly.
“I still watch football matches whenever I get time. I run a football academy and I want good footballers to come up from Manipur. There is a lot of talent but need proper training and guidance,” he said before signing off.