Kolkata, May 27 (IANS) Soon after being appointed as junior sports minister of West Bengal in the Mamata Banerjee cabinet, former India cricketer Laxmi Ratan Shukla on Friday said he does not want to be called as a “minister” and prefers to go by his nickname “LRS”.
“I am here because of your love and support. Hopefully in the coming years, I will be showered with more love. I have told everyone not to call me a minister. The media calls me as captain or LRS, I want it to stay that way. I do not need the branding of a minister to work for the common mass,” said Shukla, the first ever international sportsperson in the state to become a minister.
On Friday afternoon Shukla – a former Bengal cricket captain – was sworn in as minister.
Shukla, contesting his maiden assembly election as a Trinamool Congress nominee from Howrah North, outclassed his nearest rival, Left Front-backed Congress candidate Santosh Pathak by a whopping 26,959 votes. Noted actress Roopa Ganguly, who contested on a BJP ticket, came third.
The seat was previously held by Trinamool’s Ashok Ghosh, who was dropped before the elections.
Asked if he had known about his appointment in advance, Shukla said: “I didn’t have a clue. I was watching the television, from there I got to know about this. I was a little surprised. But whatever Didi (elder sister, as Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is lovingly called) thinks is right, she has done.”
The 35-year-old said he has had a word with West Bengal Sports Minister Aroop Biswas and that the latter has assured him of all help.
“I have known Aroop da for a long time. He has told me not to worry and work hard. There is a lot to learn from him. He has also helped me a lot when I was retiring,” Shukla said.
The ex all-rounder, who turned out in three One Day International matches for India, also said his main objective now is to bring smile to the faces of the masses.
“Main thing is to learn how things work. I will learn from Aroop Da. Also my wife is telling me what to do now,” he said with a laugh.
“Responsibility motivates me. It feels like a new challenge now. When I was Bengal’s captain I used to love the responsibility. Hopefully I will be able bring smile to faces of the masses.”