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TOP STORIESLeander Paes "Open To Contesting Election", Says "Let Mamata Didi" Decide

Leander Paes “Open To Contesting Election”, Says “Let Mamata Didi” Decide

New Delhi:

Former tennis star Leander Paes — who is expected to be the face of Trinamool Congress in Goa for next year’s assembly elections — has told NDTV that he was approached directly by the party to join up in the state. “My relationship with Mamata Banerjee goes back many years,” said the 48-year-old, whose mother is from Bengal. “When Mamata didi says something, she delivers… she is a true champion,” Mr Paes told NDTV.

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Asked about Trinamool’s last venture into Goa — when a chunk of their candidates lost their security deposit — Mr Paes said winning and losing is a part of life but what matters is the “dedication, sincerity and honesty”.

The 18-time grand slam winner, whose father is Goan, said tennis took him away from heritage, “but I’m back now… I see huge opportunities to do good in Goa. I play for India, only my vehicle has changed”.

Asked whether he would contest in the state elections next year, he said, “I am open to contesting election. Let Mamata Banerjee decide that”. But for now, he said, he was intent on learning and there is much ground to cover.

Mr Paes had joined the Trinamool Congress along with actor Nafisa Ali in presence of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee during her visit to the state on Friday.

At the press conference that followed, Ms Banerjee recalled meeting him when the Olympic bronze medal winner was a teenager. “I was the sports minister of the country when I (first) met him,” she was quoted as saying by news agency Press Trust of India. “I have got my younger brother and sweet and cute brother in the TMC,” she added.

Mr Paes had said he had met Ms Banerjee when he was 14. “She was very encouraging and supportive. It enabled me as a young boy to embark on this game, he added.

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