As former Indian football skipper Bhaichung Bhutia announced a new political party for Sikkim, he called upon “good people and youths” to come forward to practice “clean politics” in the state.

Announcing that he would be floating ‘Hamro Sikkim,’ Mr Bhutia told a press conference at the Press Club of India in Delhi in Delhi on Thursday that the new party has been formed by the people of Sikkim.

“This party has been formed by the people of Sikkim and we dedicate it to them. I am not here to become the party president or the Chief Minister, but to inspire the people in Sikkim and the country to join politics. Good people and youths should come forward in order to cleanse the politics,” he said.

Mr Bhutia also highlighted several issues including “corruption” under the Pawan Chamling-led Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF), while he pointed out to what he called the highest unemployment rate, and the highest suicide rate in the country, which, he said need to be addressed.

At the Delhi conference, the ace footballer was flanked by other politicians and professionals from Sikkim like Indra Hang Subba, Dilip Rai, Dr Dina Basnet, DS Limboo and Yogen Rai.

Mr Bhutia hails from Tinkitam in South Sikkim, while he earlier this year resigned from the Trinamul Congress and announced that he is no more into active politics in West Bengal.

Mr Bhutia, who had contested the Lok Sabha polls in Darjeeling and assembly elections from Siliguri in 2016 on Trinamul Congress ticket, was also a member of the party’s district core committee and chairman of the North Bengal Board for Development of Sports and Games.

Congratulating Mr Bhutia, the Spokesperson for the opposition Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM), Jacob Khaling, said Mr Bhutia is a “clean figure” and that they suggest that he “stay away from the people who are working as the opposition under the supervision of the SDF party.”

“Bhaichung should not let such people defame his image. We hope to work together as opposition parties for the welfare of Sikkim, and we congratulate and wish him the best for his political career,” Mr Khaling said.

“I am excited to know about Bhaichung’s new venture and I wish him luck. He was an ace footballer and I hope he will be an ace in Sikkim politics too,” said an ardent fan of Mr Bhutia here in Gangtok on Friday. SDF leaders could not be contacted for comment despite several attempts.