After making waves in cricket, Sachin Tendulkar on Monday took guard in his new innings as Member of Parliament but if anyone had doubts about his priorities, he made it clear that it would be the game first.
Accompanied by his wife Anjali, the 39-year-old cricket legend in a checked
shirt and wearing sunshades came to Parliament House in the official car of Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Shukla and was escorted straight to the Chairman Hamid Ansari's chamber.
The first cricketer to be nominated to the House of Elders, his oath-taking as member was a brief affair, which he did in Hindi and in the name of God, but keeping with his star status, the attendant ceremony prolonged a bit longer.
In all, it took more than an hour for the whole process to be over with MoS in PMO V Narayanasamy offering him a golden shawl followed by a photo session and a tea with guests and officials.
Another MoS Harish Rawat and SP leader Ram Gopal Yadav were present at the ceremony after which Ansari welcomed him with some discussion on cricket and his own interest in the game.
Shortly after he took the oath, he was asked how would he assuage those raising questions whether he had time for Parliament because of his commitment to cricket.
He said cricket would be his first priority and hinted at concentrating on Parliament work after he stops playing the game.
However, Tendulkar hastened to add that he does not want rumours to swirl that he has stopped playing cricket for Parliament.
"...I am here because of my cricketing career. I cannot take any focus away from my cricket. That is where it all started for me. I will focus on my cricket and as and when I stop playing cricket, I don't know, when I will start attending to other things.
"I don't want rumours to start that I have stopped playing cricket. I will let everyone know when I will stop playing cricket," Tendulkar said in reply to questions.
Tendulkar, along with film actor Rekha and industrialist Anu Aga was nominated as members of the Rajya Sabha by President Pratibha Patil on April 26.
"Cricket comes first," Tendulkar told reporters.
There was much excitement in the corridors of Parliament as a large number of officials gathered outside Ansari's chamber where Tendulkar took oath.
A number of Parliament staffers took out their mobile phones to capture a glimpse of the cricketer.
Tendulkar said it was a great honour for him to be nominated as a Rajya Sabha member by the President.
Tendulkar said the Rajya Sabha nomination has put him in better position to help not only cricket but also other sports in the country.
On apprehensions that he would not be able to devote much time to Parliament, Tendulkar made it clear that he was a nominated member of the Rajya Sabha and had not sought to be a member.
"See, I am a nominee. So, I didn't go to anyone to say that I want to become a Rajya Sabha member. It is an honour which I accept with full respect but I am here because of my cricketing career," Sachin said.
Asked whether Tendulkar's oath was special, Ansari said, "All oaths are the same. All members are same."
Tendulkar said cricket had given him many things in life during the 22 years he has played the game and he had always dreamt of giving something back to cricket in the latter half of his life.
"Whatever I am today is because of cricket and I strongly believe that. Today, with the nomination as Rajya Sabha member, I think I am in a better position not only to help cricket but also other sports in the country which is really important and means a lot to me. And I will try my best to help other sports," he said.
"But I believe there might be few obstacles along the way and a few challenges along the way. And I need help from my fellow parliamentarians, the administrators, media and our countrymen. I think, together we can make a lot of changes," Tendulkar said.
The cricketer said he would like to be remembered as someone who contributed to all sports in the country and not just by his cricket statistics.
"I would finally like to say that I will be happy if I am remembered as someone who contributed to all sports in India rather than just my cricket statistics. That would be fantastic," Tendulkar said.
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