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Mohd Kaif, former India cricketer, is the Congress candidate from Phulpur. He discusses his inspiration and his objectives in this interview:
What made you enter politics?
My chances of getting into the Indian team are very slim. When this offer came, I spoke to my family and we all thought, what if this opportunity should come after five years? There was also the possibility of it not coming. I might not be playing cricket after five years, so I felt I should take this opportunity the Congress has given me... I earned well playing for India and felt it was the right time to give back to society. There is a lot to be done in these places, small issues never addressed.
What are those issues?
There is a hospital in my constituency but it has no doctors. Electricity has always been an issue. As a common man I know people expect only small things of the government: water, roads, electricity, schools, colleges and hospitals. There are young people who are qualified but jobless.
Have you spoken to any cricketer-turned-politician?
I was in regular touch with Azhar bhai and he too said I should take the offer.
You have said Rahul Gandhi inspires you.
I have known Rahul since 2004, when he went to Pakistan to watch a series; his whole family was there. One day he called me to Delhi. There were other leaders too and he said the Congress wants me to contest from Phulpur.
How would you compare Rahul with Narendra Modi?
Rahul Gandhi is the Sourav Ganguly of the Congress party. Like Sourav, who backed youngsters and made clear to his teammates what he expected of us, so does Rahul. The goal is development and this inspired me to join.
Do you think your star image will help?
For people of Allahabad and Phulpur, Iím the same Kaif. I was one of them, worked hard and achieved something. The only difference is that in cricket I had a bat and here I have baat. More than talking, it will be work done that will matter.
Are you ready to face sledging from the opposition?
Development is my aim. Ab koi kichad feke, gaali de, kuch bhi kare. There is no U-turn. I have taken my guard.