During a game between East Bengal and Mohun Bagan, the Internet will be taken by storm with two banners at Salt Lake Stadium on Saturday.
The slogans in the banners were directed against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC), but without mentioning them. The meeting of the supporters of the two clubs, arch rivals since the 1920s, is called "historical".
"Politics brought us together. For the first time in 100 years, we supported each other and [that is why] I'm happy even after the defeat, ”said Tanmay Haldar, school teacher and East Bengal fan.
The banner of East Bengal, which was spread by his followers in the gallery, read: "We earned this floor with our blood, not with paper." East Bengal fans are generally those who came from East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, and as such are called "Bangals".
However, this may not always be the case. Many with West Bengal roots are also East Bengal supporters, while the Mohun Bagan supporters – called "Ghotis" – are believed to be those born and raised in West Bengal. Therefore, they differ in almost everything, from food to football.
However, Mohun Bagan's followers unfolded a banner with a message similar to that of East Bengal. "Respect our history, heritage and tradition," said the English, while the Bengali remarked, "Since the sun has set over the Plassey fields, we have taught you to look the enemy in the eye." Another banner said, "When we were here, there were no documents."
While many supporters claim that there is no story in which the rivals spread similar messages, the political parties distanced themselves from it. A Trinamool Congress leader said it was a "spontaneous deal" between supporters of both clubs. However, a BJP official said that the ruling TMC "provided the banners".
Bappa Bose, a social media enthusiast, wrote on Twitter that he was happy that Mohun Bagan won the match, "but I applaud the anti-CAA, NRC spirit of both together". Football fans say it is the "rarest" instance in which fans appreciate the slogans of others. But the clubs have refrained from commenting.