Bengaluru, May 24: The election of Gautam Gambhir in the 17th Lok Sabha election has maintained the old tradition of cricketers joining politics and going on to becoming parliamentarians. The former India opener came up with an impressive performance in his first-ever electoral venture in which he contested from East Delhi constituency and beat opponents from the Congress and Aam Aadmi Party.
The 37-year-old also became only the second World Cup-winning cricketer to become the member of the Lok Sabha after former BJP MP Kirti Azad.
Neither it’s a ‘Lovely’ cover drive and nor it is an ‘आतिशी’ बल्लेबाज़ी। It’s just the BJP’s ‘गंभीर’ ideology which people have supported. Thanks a lot to all the @BJP4India and @BJP4Delhi team-mates for getting this mandate. We won’t fail people’s choice. #EkBaarPhirModiSarkar— Gautam Gambhir (@GautamGambhir) May 23, 2019
Gambhir kept the baton of a tradition high. Before him, the likes of Mohammad Azharuddin, Navjot Singh Sidhu and Chetan Chauhan, besides Azad, have served as members of the Lower House of the Parliament. Batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar also has served as the MP though it was in the Upper House - Rajya Sabha.
Azharuddin served one term as the Congress MP from Uttar Pradesh's Moradabad between 2009-2014 and has now been shifted to take care of the party's affairs in his home state Telangana.
Sidhu was earlier a BJP MP from Amritsar between 2004 and 2014 but was discontent after he was made to give up his seat in favour of Arun Jaitley in 2014 though the latter lost. The former India opening batsman, who also served as a Rajya Sabha MP, quit the party and joined the Congress a couple of years ago and is a controversial minister in the current Captain Amarinder Singh government in Punjab and is an MLA from Amritsar East.
Chetan Chauhan, now aged 71, had also become the MP on the BJP's ticket twice in the 1990s. The former opening batsman who had given company to the legend Sunil Gavaskar a number of times high up in the order, became the parliamentarian from UP's Amroha in 1991 and 1998 but ended at No.4 in the Lok Sabha election of 2004.
Former India cricketers who had unsuccessful stint with elections
Besides these former cricketers who had successful stints with electoral politics, there have also been a few who did not excel on the expected lines. Former India middle-order batsman Mohammad Kaif fought from UP's historic Phulpur constituency from where Jawaharlal Nehru had once contested. Kaif fought on a ticket of the Congress in what turned out to be the party's worst election in history and finished fourth after the BJP, Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party.
Another former India international cricketer who tried his luck in electoral politics albeit unsuccessfully is S Sreesanth. Yet to formally retire, 36-year-old Sreesanth though had contested the Assembly elections in Kerala in 2016 on a ticket of the BJP but finished third with less than 35,000 votes. He is perhaps the only former India bowler who contested an election in India.