Not many Indian cricketers after their retirement from professional sport went on to become politicians of the nation. There are some big names in the following list who tried their luck in the political field despite tough competition surrounding them. While some contested and succeeded in the elections, others just couldn’t just make an impact in the second innings of their life.
Let’s take a look at the seven Indian cricketers who turned politicians:-
#7. Vinod Kambli
Kambli proved a great case for himself as a viable attacking middle-order batsman for India. The highlight is that he is the first cricketer to score a century in an ODI on his birthday. Besides cricketing career, he has also appeared in some TV serials and Bollywood films as an actor.
He also joined the Lok Bharati Party and was roped in as the vice-president of the party. He contested the 2009 General Assembly election from Vikhroli, Mumbai as a Lok Bharati Party candidate and luck didn’t wave on his side as he lost the election.
#6. Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi
Pataudi is the former skipper of the Indian cricket team and only very few of them know that he is one of India’s greatest cricket captains. Apart from his captaincy, he was also praised as the ‘best fielder in the world’ at his peak.
He contested in the general elections from Bhopal under Congress party in the year 1991 and finally lost it. In 1971, he lost elections while contesting for Vishal Haryana party headed by Rao Birender Singh. He drew his last breath at the age of 70 due to respiratory failure.
#5. Kirti Azad
Kirti Azad is an attacking cricketer by trait and interestingly, he was also a part of the Indian team that won the World Cup in 1983. However, he made a huge impact only in the political career and let’s find out. Following the footprints of his father Bhagwat Jha Azad the former Chief Minister of Bihar, Azad entered into politics and was elected to Parliament on a BJP ticket from Darbhanga, Bihar.
Presently, he is serving his third term in the Lok Sabha and previously he was an MLA from Delhi’s Gole Market constituency. He successfully won the 2014 Lok Sabha Elections from Darbhanga and on 23 December 2015, he got suspended from BJP for directly targeting Union finance minister Arun Jaitley over alleged irregularities and corruption in Delhi’s cricket body Delhi and District Cricket Association and then he joined the Indian National Congress on the 18th of February, 2019
#4. Mohammad Azharuddin
Azharuddin, the former Indian captain was one of the substantial batsmen for the team. However, he couldn’t continue his prowess for so long as his international career came to a controversial end when he was involved in the infamous match-fixing scandal in 2000 soon after which he was banned by the BCCI for life.
He didn’t remain tight-lipped about the case he fought for more than a decade. “It was a long drawn out legal case and it was painful. We fought in court for 11 years. Finally, the verdict has come and I am happy that the ban has been lifted by the court.
“I am not going to take any legal action against any authority and I don’t want to blame anybody for this also. Whatever had to happen has happened. I don’t have any complaint.”
Azharuddin then joined the Indian National Congress party on 19 February 2009. He then won the Indian general election, 2009 from UP’s Moradabad to become Member of Parliament of India. Mohammed Azharuddin also revealed his plans to contest 2019 elections from Secunderabad Parliamentary constituency in 2019 and at present, he is holding the position of Working President of Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee.
#3. Navjot Sidhu
Navjot Singh Sidhu won on a BJP ticket from the Amritsar seat in the Indian general elections in 2004. After calling it quits owing to a court case against him, he then stood one more time after the ruling stayed. He also won a by-election with a good majority and in the 2009 general elections, he defeated Om Prakash Soni of Indian National Congress by 6858 votes.
“Amritsar is the place where my work and action speaks for itself. Since I started contesting elections from this holy place, I have promised myself never to abandon this place. Either, I will contest from Amritsar, or else I won’t contest elections,” Sidhu earlier said after he was not being nominated as party’s from Amritsar in the general election, 2014.
Navjot Singh Sidhu sworn in as the member of the Rajya Sabha on 28 April 2016 and according to the reports, Sidhu was given the Rajya Sabha nomination in order to prevent him from joining the Aam Aadmi Party. Nonetheless, he resigned from the Rajya Sabha on 18 July 2016.
In January 2017, Sidhu joined the INC and he was fielded to contest from Amritsar East in the 2017 Punjab Assembly elections where he won the election by a margin of 42,809 votes.
#2. Mohammad Kaif
Mohammad Kaif’s contribution to Indian cricket has never been in doubt. Even as he has been a good batsman, he will be remembered for being an electrifying fielder. He was the best fielders in the world during his time and even the batsmen would fear of taking a single if there is Kaif is nearby as he has effected many run-outs and taken some sumptuous catches which other fielders on the pitch could only dream of.
Talking about his political career, Kaif joined Indian National Congress and he took another step in intensity where he contested 2014 Loksabha election from Phulpur in Uttar Pradesh but he lost to Keshav Prasad Maurya of the BJP.
#1. Gautam Gambhir
Gautam Gambhir was one of the best cricketers India has ever produced. Hailing from Delhi, Gambhir played an important role in the team’s success of ICC T20 World Cup 2007 and ICC World Cup 2011. He joined Bharatiya Janata Party on March 22 ahead of the Lok Sabha elections 2019. Soon after being inducted into the Delhi cadre of the party, he pledged to live up to party’s expectations.
He even admitted that he is very well impressed by PM Narendra Modi’s vision for India. He has always chipped in with bold opinions about his political views especially on our India’s stand on terrorism including cricketing ties with neighbours. It will be quite interesting to see how Gambhir gets into the scheme of things in his new political career.