Kolkata: Hitting sixes, bowling unbeatable bouncers or scoring hattricks have been their forte, but now Bengal’s iconic sportsmen – Manoj Tiwary, Ashok Dinda and Bidesh Bose- hope to replicate their magic in the game of politics.
Having won their debut electoral battles, the trio are all excited about “making a difference” in their new innings.
Mohun Bagan’s legendary leftwinger Bidesh Bose and former India batsman Manoj Tiwary won in Uluberia East and Shibpur respectively for the ruling Trinamool Congress that swept the West Bengal Assembly elections winning 213 of the 292 seats.
Former tearaway Bengal pacer Dinda, who played under Tiwary for several years, on the other hand won it for BJP which garnered 77 seats in the West Bengal Assembly Polls.
There was a fourth former sportsperson, BJP’s Kalyan Chaubey, who too was in the poll fray. However, the former India goalkeeper lost to TMC heavywieght Sadhan Pande, three years after he had lost the Lok Sabha election fight to Mahua Mitra in his political debut at Krishnanagar.
Dinda, who contested from Moyna in Tamluk of East Medinipur district defeated TMC’s two-time sitting MLA Sangram Kumar Dolai by a thin margin of 1260 votes.
“You can call it like getting five wickets in a debut match,” Dinda, who is Bengals second most successful bowler after Utpal Chatterjee, with 420 first-class wickets in just 116 fixtures, told PTI.
Pitted against the TMC heavyweight Dolai, who had won the previous 2016 Assembly Polls by more than 12,000 votes, his “debut match” was not an easy task.
“Like in sports, it was ‘sheer hardwork’ that clinched it for me,” the 37-year-old, who retired from all forms of cricket earlier this year, said.
“Everyday I would go to one village after another and talk to people, understand their problems and give them my promise to make a difference for them,” he said.
“They would say they had hardly seen the ruling MLA visit them for even five minutes in his five-year tenure.”
“So what if my party has not won. The work will not stop. Maybe I won’t be in power but I can take the people’s voice to the Assembly and work for them,” Dinda said. Lack of a proper medical facility in Moyna is Dinda’s main concern.
“The two government hospitals here are in a bad shape, often people die on way to Kolkata. My priority is to create a state-of-art medical facility here.”
A former India player and one of the finest batsmen to have emerged from Bengal in the post-Sourav Ganguly era, Tiwary is committed to work 24×7 for people of Shibpur.
“Politics is not an easy place for a newcomer from a different sphere… I had campaigned door-to-door in Shibpur locality. They were convinced by my honest intentions. I want to be a politician who will be available for his people 24×7,” Tiwary, 35, said.
“As of now, tackling the COVID-19 crisis will be our first priority. Then we will go step-by-step.”
So is it curtains for his cricketing career?
“Not yet. I will maintain my fitness. There is going to be no Ranji matches for a year. I will wait and see how it goes. But I don’t rule out playing a few more games for Bengal.”
For the star footballer of the 1970s, Bidesh Bose, it is about listening to his “head coach” Mamata Banerjee’s instructions in scoring a winning goal as he defeated BJP’s Pratyush Mondal and Abbasuddin Khan of Indian Secular Front.
In Uluberia Purba where Muslims comprise nearly 34 per cent of the electorate and where BJP had launched a high pitched campaign, Bose faced a stiff challenge from both Khan and Mondal but the rookie politician stayed grounded.
“When Didi first had offered me this seat in March, I didn’t know how to go about it, how do I live up to her reputation…
“Then when I personally went there, met the people and heard their problems, I realised that this is altogether a different pitch. It’s a completely different Maidan. But it was just like another game,” Bose said.
“I’m not a man of politics so I will play the game as my coach and assistant coach instruct. We have got good roads but what’s missing is good sanitation and drinking water.
There’s a bit of conflict with this being a Panchayat area… This will be my main priority at this moment,” he concluded.