Indian tennis legend Leander Paes joined the Trinamool Congress on Friday. He was inducted into the party by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at an event in Goa capital of Panaji.

“He [Paes] is like my younger brother...I know him since when I was the country’s sports minister [in 1991],” Banerjee said. “Him joining the Trinamool Congress will encourage the young generation.”

Actor Nafisa Ali, who contested the 2004 Lok Sabha elections from South Kolkata against Banerjee, also joined the party, along with entrepreneur Mrinalini Deshprabhu.

Banerjee is in Goa to campaign for the Trinamool Congress ahead of Assembly elections next year.

At a meeting with party members earlier on Friday, Banerjee said that she wanted Goa to emerge as a “strong state” like West Bengal, ANI reported.

“I am just like your sister...I did not come here to capture your power,” she said while addressing the meeting. “It touches my heart if we can help people when they face trouble.”

The Trinamool Congress chief countered the Bharatiya Janata Party’s pitch of her being an outsider in the state, saying that she could go anywhere in the country. “I believe in secularism...I believe in unity,” she said. “I believe India is our motherland. If Bengal is my motherland, then Goa is also my motherland.”

Banerjee said that there should be no more bullying from Delhi, India Today reported. She claimed that her posters were defaced in Goa by BJP. She claimed the party’s members, who have “mental pollution”, also showed her black flags.

“We’ve launched Trinamool Congress in Goa as the need of the hour is to fight BJP,” the West Bengal chief minister said, according to ANI. “If we can’t fight, then they’ll finish the country, they’ll sell the country.”

Banerjee said that the saffron party had often said she was “anti-Hindu”, according to The Indian Express. “I am Hindu,” she said. “Who are you to give me a character certificate?”

She also criticised the Congress for failing to make for a strong Opposition over 60 years.

“You [Congress] cannot control your MLAs?” she said “You let the BJP come to power? Who can say it will not happen again?”

Banjeree told TMC workers that she had visited Goa as a Union minister 10 years ago to inaugurate the International Film Festival of India. As railway minister in 2009, she had visited Margao to launch a system to reduce train accidents. “Nothing new that I came for political purposes,” she said. “I came earlier for development purposes, for cultural purposes.”

The Trinamool Congress will be contesting the Goa elections for the first time, in a bid to expand its footprint beyond West Bengal. The Congress, however, said that the Trinamool should introspect on whether it was strengthening the BJP by contesting the Goa elections.

Last month, former Goa Chief Minister Luizinho Faleiro had joined the party after quitting the Congress.