Pitch Perfect: Gambhir, Kirti Azad, Kaif & Other Cricketers Who Forayed Into Politics
From The Pitch To Parliament
The 2019 elections have kicked off in parts of India, and the IPL too, is on full swing. Therefore, cricket and politics are bound to be the most-popular subjects of conversation at the dinner table. Amidst this, when a cricketer steps inside Parliament instead of the pitch, it's bound to make headlines.
Earlier this year in March, cricketer Gautam Gambhir joined the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP). The former opener is the richest among all candidates contesting from Delhi with assets worth Rs 147 crores. However, Gambhir isn't the only one who has forayed into India's political scene.
Here's a round-up of all other cricketers who switched from the pitch to Parliament.
Cricket To Congress
Former all-rounder Kirti Azad has had a rather interesting political career. Azad, who was a part of the legendary 1983 World Cup-winning squad, traversed from the BJP to Congress in his ongoing political career.
The right-handed batsman was never too detached from the political scene as his father, Bhagwat Jha Azad, served as Bihar's Chief Minister from 1988 to 1989. He contested for the elections from Darbhanga, Bihar, won thrice and served as the Member of Parliament on all occasions. However, things went south for Azad in 2015 when he was suspended from the BJP for publicly criticising Arun Jaitley and his ignorance towards corruption in Delhi & District Cricket Association (DDCA).
In February 2018, Azad joined the Congress, terming it 'coming home' for him as his father also represented the same party.
In Full Swing
Navjot Singh Sidhu's blockbuster cricket debut in 1981-82 was followed by a streak of 20 successful years in the sport. The 55-year-old who was popular for his explosive batting made headlines in 2004 when he joined the BJP.
The former batsman contested elections from Amritsar and won the seat in the first attempt itself and held on to it for 10 years straight. In 2016, Sidhu was nominated for the Rajya Sabha from Punjab. However, he quit the party in the same year, citing differences with the leadership.
In 2017, he joined the Congress and was elected to the Punjab Legislative Assembly from East Amritsar.
A Life Full Of Ups And Downs
Mohammad Azharuddin has had his share of ups and downs. The man who ruled the batting scenario in the '90s with his sharp strokes fell out of the game in 2000 when he was accused of match-fixing. However, in 2009, after receiving a push from his brother and friend, the 56-year-old joined the Congress. He won the Lok Sabha election from Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh and became a Member of Parliament, thanks to huge amount of public support.
In 2014, he lost the elections from Tonk-Sawai Madhopur in Rajasthan. Recently, the right-handed batsman expressed his desire to contest 2019 elections from Secunderabad.
Star Of Cricket, Dull In Politicis
The early 2000s saw a swift generational switch in Indian cricket with young skippers like Mohammad Kaif. The 38-year-old left fans mesmerised with his energy and maturity on the pitch. However, in 2014, he took some time off cricket and decided to join politics. The right-handed batsman joined the Congress and contested the elections from Phulpur in Uttar Pradesh. However, he faced heavy defeat to BJP’s Keshav Prasad Maurya. The sports star has since not been actively involved in politics.
Against All Odds
Chetan Chauhan, who once used to be a reliable batsman, has been a member of BJP throughout his political career. In 1991 and 1998, he was elected the member of Parliament from Uttar Pradesh’s Amroha Seat. However, his political career has not been quite smooth. He lost the elections from the same constituency in 1996, 1999 and 2004. At present, he is the youth development and sports minister in UP.
Ticket To The Polls, Please
S Sreesanth's cricket career has not been an ideal one either. In 2013, things went south for him when he was accused of match-fixing in the IPL.
The 36-year-old joined the BJP in 2016 and contested the Kerala Assembly Elections from Thiruvananthapuram. However, the former bowler could not win the polls against VS Sivakumar of Congress. In 2015, Sreesanth was acquitted of the match-fixing charges.