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Sourav to join BJP? "Work in progress", say party sources

BJP says talks are on to bring former Indian cricket captain Sourav Ganguly into party fold ahead of 2016 state polls

Probal Basak  |  Kolkata 

Sourav Ganguly

“Sourav Ganguly to join (the) BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party). Big coup for the party in West Bengal. #Dada vs Didi.”

This tweet by RPG Enterprises’ Harsh Goenka triggered speculation about former Indian cricket team skipper Sourav Ganguly joining the BJP. It prompted an official denial from the party and an ambiguous response from the cricketer. Sources in the state unit of the BJP said talks were on to bring Ganguly into the party.

“Work in progress. But to say the BJP has offered to project him (Ganguly) as the chief ministerial candidate in 2016 Assembly polls is nothing but a rumour. What would be Ganguly’s role will be discussed once he gives consent to join the party,” said a source close to the development.

According to sources, Ganguly is yet to decide but the talks have not been called off. Maybe, he is waiting for the right time and wants to be convinced first about the BJP’s prospects in West Bengal, the source said.

“Siddharth ji (Siddharth Nath Singh, in-charge of West Bengal) has already said there is no truth in it. I can’t say anything more than that. When someone joins our party, and let me assure there will be a lot of notable names, we will inform at the right time,” West Bengal BJP President Rahul Sinha said.

Ganguly had earlier said, “I am not aware of what Mr Harsh Goenka has tweeted. You please ask him. I have utmost respect for our Prime Minister, Mr Narendra Modi”.

The BJP had approached Ganguly to contest the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, and was apparently offered the post of Union sports minister. At that time, the BJP’s Varun Gandhi reached Ganguly with the offer but the latter said he was not ready to join

“He (Ganguly) is an icon of Bengal. If he comes (joins BJP), it will be a big boost for us in West Bengal,” Union minister of state for urban development Babul Supriyo said.

The 42-year-old Ganguly has represented India in 113 Tests and 311 one-day matches. Currently, he is joint secretary of the Cricket Association of Bengal.

The BJP, which is on the rise in West Bengal, has been looking for popular political and non-political faces from the state.

The party had roped in singer-turned-MP Babul Supriyo, singer Bappi Lahiri and Bengali film actor George Baker before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Actress Roopa Ganguly, famous for her role as ‘Draupadi’ in BR Chopra’s popular TV series ‘Mahabharat’, joined recently.

Recently, Manjul Krishna Thakur, a serving minister in Mamata Banerjee’s Cabinet, joined the party. Earlier, former TMC MP Shucharu Ranjan Haldar did likewise.

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First Published: Sat, January 24 2015. 00:24 IST