The Bharatiya Janata Party has approached a number of big names, whom it wants to field as candidates from the state of West Bengal in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections of May 2014.
The saffron party has approached former Indian cricketer Sourav Ganguly, Kolkata Knight Riders’ Lakshmi Ratan Shukla, who is also the Bengal cricket team captain, Tollywood actress Rituparna Sengupta and a senior IPS officer.
Ganguly has not decided on the BJP's offer, but a source with direct knowledge of the matter said, “According to the offer, the plan is that Sourav will get an entourage of cricketers, who have been his colleagues. One such name who might join in the star cast, if Ganguly comes, is former cricketer Saba Karim,” the person said, adding that party officials are counting big time on Ganguly and senior officials are in touch with the former Indian team captain.
While Ganguly is still taking time to make up his mind, confirmation of KKR’s Shukla looks almost certain, according to BJP insiders. Shukla did not return calls Business Standard made to him.
The prime reason to get an array of star celebrities on board is to add to the brand equity of the party, which doesn’t have much of a presence in the state. On Ganguly’s selection, Bengal BJP president Rahul Sinha told Business Standard that the party was ready to wait for the master cricketer to make his decision. “We are not in any hurry. We want to cash in on the Modi wave by inducting Ganguly in our team,” he said.
What the BJP is trying to do is very similar to what the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress government had done before coming to power during the state polls (2011) and the last general elections (2009). A range of celebrities, IPS and IAS officers were brought on board.
There is also buzz that Mamata Banerjee is trying to persuade former Indian soccer captain Baichung Bhutia to stand for the TMC in Darjeeling.
Bhutia did not respond to calls/messages sent by Business Standard.
- Former Indian cricketer Sourav Ganguly is not the only ‘star’ name BJP has approached in Benga
- Actress Rituparna Sengupta, Kolkata Knight Riders' Lakshmi Ratan Shukla (also Bengal cricket team captain) also approached
- BJP is in discussion with a working IPS officer who has had a troubled history with current Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee
- According to the offer, the plan is that Sourav will get an entourage of cricketers who have been his colleagues
- One such name is former cricketer Saba Karim.