Here's a look at Indian cricketers who have ventured into politics.
Former India cricketer Gautam Gambhir is the latest sportsman to take the political plunge. This is not the first time that a cricketer has joined politics after hanging his boots. While some of them failed in their new job, others have done reasonably well on the new pitch in the past. Here’s a look at Indian cricketers who have ventured into politics.
Gautam Gambhir joined Bharatiya Janata Party on Friday in the presence of Union Minister Arun Jaitley and Ravi Shankar Prasad. He is likely to contest from New Delhi constituency. In 2014, the New Delhi parliamentary seat was won by BJP’s Meenakshi Lekhi. Gambhir had played an important role in India’s victory in the 2011 World Cup and the 2007 T20 World Cup.
The former Indian skipper started his career in politics in 2009 when he joined the Congress party. He contested 2009 elections from Uttar Pradesh’s Moradabad parliamentary constituency and became an MP. In 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the batsman lost. He led the Indian team in 47 tests during the 1990s. The BCCI had imposed a life ban on him after his name cropped up in the match-fixing scandal in 2000.
Navjot Singh Sidhu:
Navjot Singh Sidhu is currently serving as a minister of Tourism, Cultural Affairs, and Museums in Punjab government. He began his political career by joining BJP in 2004 during Lok Sabha elections and won. In 2016, he was nominated to Rajya Sabha. However, citing differences with the BJP leadership, he resigned from the party and joined Congress. In 2017, Sidhu was elected to the Punjab Assembly from Amritsar East seat. His cricket career spanned almost two decades.
Kirti Azad belongs to a family of political leaders. His father Bhagwat Jha Azad, a Congress leader, had served as a Chief Minister of Bihar from 1988 to 1989. He joined the BJP at the age of 34 years and represented the party for more than two decades winning from Bihar’s Darbhanga seat. In 2015, Azad was suspended by the BJP for criticising Union Minister Arun Jaitley over corruption in the Delhi & District Cricket Association (DDCA). However, in 2018, the cricketer left the saffron party and joined the Congress.
Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi:
Former India Captain Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi was the first cricketer to jump into politics and fight elections. Pataudi was considered to be one of the country’s greatest cricket captains. He contested Lok Sabha polls twice from Haryana’s Bhiwani and Madhya Pradesh’s Bhopal but was defeated.
Team India players Mohammad Kaif, S Sreesanth and Chetan Chauhan have also tried their luck in politics in the past. Kaif contested the 2014 Lok Sabha election on Congress ticket from Phulpur, Uttar Pradesh but suffered a heavy defeat. After being handed over a life ban following the 2013 IPL spot-fixing scandal, fast bowler S Sreesanth contested 2016 Kerala Assembly polls from Thiruvananthapuram but lost. Chetan Chauhan was elected twice as a member of parliament from Uttar Pradesh’s Amroha Seat in 1991 and 1998 respectively.