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Gambhir joins club of cricketers-turned-politicians

by Sahir Usman Mar 23, 2019 • 07:41 AM

New Delhi, March 23 - Former Indian cricketer Gautam Gambhir became the latest cricketer to take the plunge into politics on Friday when he joined the Bharatiya Janata Party here in the presence of Union Ministers Arun Jaitley and Ravi Shankar Prasad.

Gambhir, who played a key role in India's triumph in the 2011 World Cup and the 2007 T20 World Cups, is likely to be fielded from the New Delhi constituency, which was won by the BJP's Minakshi Lekhi in 2014.

The list of cricketers joining politics after retirement is long but there are many who excelled and tasted success. While there are a few who tasted failures in this altogether different field they ventured into.

Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi:
Pataudi, a former Indian skipper, was among the first of the cricketers who joined politics and contested polls. Regarded as one of India's greatest cricket captains, the nawab contested two Lok Sabha polls and tasted defeat. 

First, he contested from Bhiwani in Haryana and was defeated by former Chief Minister Bansi Lal. The next he contested from Bhopal on a Congress ticket in 1991. Despite the fact that former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and cricket World Cup winner team captain Kapil Dev campaigned for him, he eventually lost the poll. He could not taste success in this other field. Following these defeats, Pataudi chose not to stay put on the sticky wicket of politics and bid adieu. 

Mohammad Azharuddin:
The stylish Hyderabadi batsman began his political innings in 2009 when he joined Congress. Azharuddin won the general elections in 2009 from Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh to become an MP. The former India captain was, however, routed in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections from Moradabad constituency. Azharuddin was an elegant middle-order batsman and led the Indian team in 47 Tests during 1990s. However, he was banned by the BCCI for life after being involved in a match-fixing scandal in 2000. He has disclosed his intention to contest 2019 elections from Secunderabad parliamentary constituency in Telangana.

Navjot Singh Sidhu:
A minister in Punjab government, Sidhu started his political career by contesting the Lok Sabha elections in 2004 on a BJP ticket. In February 2007, he again contested the Lok Sabha bye-election from Amritsar and emerged victorious. Sidhu, who featured in 51 Tests and 136 ODIs for India, has donned several hats in his political career. In 2014, the BJP denied him a ticket and gave the seat to the party's key strategist Arun Jaitley. He was defeated by Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amrinder Singh. In 2016, he was given the Rajya Sabha ticket but he resigned.

He along with Pargat Singh and Bains brothers formed a new political front -- Aawaaz-e-Punjab -- claiming to fight against those working against Punjab. In January 2017, Sidhu joined Congress. Contesting from Amritsar East in the 2017 Punjab Assembly elections, he won by a margin of 42,809 votes. He was appointed to the Punjab cabinet.

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