Indian cricketer Manoj Tiwary will join the Trinamool Congress at West Bengal Chief Minister and party chief Mamata Banerjee's rally, in Hooghly district's Chinsurah, on Wednesday 24 February, sources in the party told The Quint.
Along with Tiwary, some members of the Congress, BJP and other "eminent personalities" are also expected to join the party at the rally. Banerjee's rally will be held in the same ground where Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a public meeting on 22 February. The TMC rally is being seen as a counter to Modi's.
35-year-old Manoj Tiwary has represented the Indian cricket team in the one-day international (ODI) and T20 formats.
He currently represents Bengal in domestic cricket and has played for the Kolkata Knight Riders, Kings XI Punjab, and Rising Pune Supergiants in the Indian Premier League.
Sources in the Trinamool tell The Quint that the party approached Tiwary about four weeks ago as they saw him as a suitable "celebrity" replacement to cricketer Laxmi Ratan Shukla. Shukla was the party's district president in Howrah and recently quit both, from the party and as minister in the Bengal government, to "focus on sports".
Shukla had further announced that he would be quitting politics all together. However, sources in the Trinamool had said at the time that he fell victim to the party's internal factionalism in the district.
After meetings with Prashant Kishor's Indian Political Action Committee (I-PAC), which is handling the TMC's campaign for the upcoming West Bengal assembly elections, Tiwary met Mamata Banerjee herself to seal the deal.
The party, however, many not field him from Shukla's Howrah (Uttar) constituency, but from an adjacent constituency in the same district.
Tiwary's joining will be latest in a slew of celebrity joining and defections in both the incumbent Trinamool Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), ahead of the Bengal polls scheduled for April-May.
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