Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee turned the victory celebrations of the newly-crowned Indian Premier League (IPL) champions Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) into a political show by taking centrestage during the ceremony in Kolkata on Tuesday, relegating the cricketers to the background. Mamata’s crowd management was on grand display as several thousand frenzied fans lined up Kolkata roads and the Eden Gardens as the KKR players were felicitated by the Chief Minister.
The IPL trophy was seen in the hands of KKR co-owner and Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan and Mamata more than in the hands of the players, who actually won the cup. Mamata and Shah Rukh turned into event managers at the Eden Gardens, asking the crowd to behave, directing the police officers and also directing the media and press photographers.
Mamata not only felicitated the players but also team owners Shah Rukh Khan and Juhi Chawla along with the team officials, and hastily presented them with bouquets and scarves. After that Shah Rukh Khan stormed the stage and said, "Thank you Didi (and) Kolkata for the celebrations".
The KKR players were presented with gifts by the West Bengal government including blue and white embroidered scarves for each player, gold chain with 'Bengal loves you' inscribed on it and cake sandesh which resembled the team logo.
West Bengal Governor MK Narayanan and other Trinamool Congress ministers were also present at the felicitation ceremony at Eden Gardens.
More than 50,000 people lined up both sides of the road as the players, led by KKR skipper Gautam Gambhir, waved on an open bus-top during the five-km journey from Hazra to Eden Gardens. The victory march began from Hazra in Kolkata on Tuesday with the KKR team led by Gambhir on an open truck with the IPL cup.
The text on the blue and white coloured truck said, "Korechi, Lorechi, Jitechi Re" (We have done it, we have fought it, we have won it)".
Earlier, the team led by Gambhir and local hero Manoj Tiwary was felicitated outside the airport by three state ministers and a Trinamool Congress MP.
Each team member was introduced on the stage to rousing applause from the fans who had gathered there.