Death of migrant labourers last year forced me to join politics: Manoj Tiwary
Politics was always on cricketer Manoj Tiwary’s radar but in his mind, there was a sense of finality once he saw the plight of migrant labourers during the Covid-19 induced lockdown last year.
After deciding to take the plunge into politics, he was clear that he had to be on Mamata Banerjee’s corner.
Having won his first state assembly elections from Shibpur constituency by a margin of more than 6000 votes over nearest rival Rathin Chakraborty of BJP, Tiwary knows his immediate assignment.
“Effective Covid-19 management in my area, raising awareness and keeping the residents of my constituency safe. That's my first job and its a challenge. But that's what sport teaches us isn't," Tiwary, a former India player and one of the finest batsmen to have emerged from Bengal, told PTI after collecting his victory certificate.
Tiwary, even in adverse circumstances, has never been short of confidence and that's why he was never unsure about his victory.
“I was well prepared for this election and worked very hard to win blessing and mandate of people of my constituency. I knew politics is not an easy place and for a newcomer from a different sphere, it was all the more difficult. I had campaigned door to door in Shibpur locality, they know my intention.
“I am happy that those smiling faces reposed their faith in me and I could feel while campaigning that they would bless me with a big mandate,” said Tiwary.
But did he think about the risks of losing an election when he had a secured domestic career and was also doing well as a TV expert?
“Yes, it was risky. I went against the tide when I took the decision because you can’t say ‘No’ to Didi. Didi has always been my inspiration. Every year on my birthday, I would receive a greeting card signed by her.”
But someone who is always practical, he knew that the knee injury sustained before last edition of Vijay Hazare Trophy would force him to have a plan B.
“When I responded to Didi’s call, I had a knee injury and wasn’t playing Vijay Hazare Trophy. It would have taken four to five months to recover. I had to come to terms with IPL rejection and I had time at my disposal which I needed to use constructively.
“In my mind, I had to decide what if this knee injury is more serious than I thought. What's my plan B? You need to think about life beyond cricket.”
At one point he was very active on social media on “Justice for Sushant Singh Rajput campaign” which he quit after it became “political in nature”.
“Yes BJP had approached me but when I saw the plight of migrant labourers who were left in the lurch by the sitting central government, joining them would be not being honest to my ideals and beliefs. I was devastated by what I saw. People dead on railway tracks. It was very difficult to accept that.
“No way could I have responded to BJP's call. They didnt fulfil any promises and this Covid mismanagement is just another example.”
Also how Mamata stood her ground against the constant attack from the top leadership of BJP also “inspired him”.
“The entire machinery of central government was put to force to attack Didi and it was call of the hour to make her stronger with our presence. I was born in Bengal, I got love, affection, fame here. Now, I have another job to do, serve the people of this state to the best of my ability.”
Cricket will certainly take a backseat for an active politician but Tiwary is hopeful that there might just be some amount of cricket left in him.
“If I would have retired, I would have told you. If I haven't, read between the lines. I don’t rule out the option of playing a few more games for Bengal. Let's wait and see.”
And what about sports administration? “Yes, you will find me raising my voice if needed in Cricket Association of Bengal and also wherever it is required for betterment of cricket and sport and as a whole.”
Tiwary during his early playing days was known for his punchlines and he had one for the occasion too.
“Manoj Tiwary hasn’t just been born to play cricket. Before I leave this world, I will do enough public service have to leave footprint as a people’s man.”