Generally, sports and politics do not gel well. But in the region, which has over the years emerged as the country’s sporting powerhouse, the story is somewhat different. The forthcoming Lok Sabha elections will see national and international sportspersons along with the ones having an experience in sports administration fighting the political battle.
International shooters Naveen Jindal (Congress) and Rao Inderjit Singh (BJP), both two-time parliamentarians, are contesting from Kurukshetra and Gurgaon Lok Sabha seats, respectively.
Former Punjab cricketer Ashwani Kumar Minna, who had played Ranji Trophy from 1975 to 1980, is making his poll debut from Haryana. Minna, a media baron, is contesting on the BJP ticket from Karnal constituency.
Former Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh is a former national champion skeet shooter. He is contesting on a Congress ticket from Amritsar constituency and his high-profile rival in the fray Arun Jaitley (BJP) also has a sports connection. Jaitley is former president of the Delhi and District Cricket Association.
For mer Punjab finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal, who is People’s Party of Punjab-Congress candidate from Bathinda Lok Sabha seat, is a former junior national-level basketball player.
BJP’s Anurag Thakur, who is involved in a controversy over the issue of Dharamsala cricket ground and the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association, is a most accomplished sports administrator of the state. He is heading the state’s cricket body and seeking re-election from Hamirpur seat.
A union minister in the incumbent government, Farooq Abdullah (National Conference) is the president of the Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association. He will be defending his Srinagar seat in the Lok Sabha elections.
Five sports administrators are also in the fray in Haryana. Congress’ Deepender Singh Hooda, who is seeking reelection from Rohtak, is president of the Haryana Football Association.
BJP’s Ramesh Kaushik, who is contesting from Sonepat constituency, is heading the state fencing association.
Dushyant Chautala, who is making his political debut from Hisar constituency as an INLD candidate, is senior vicepresident of the Table Tennis Federation of India.
While RK Anand, who is contesting on the INLD ticket from Faridabad, is president of the Jharkhand Olympic Association, party’s candidate from Karnal, Jaswinder Sandhu is vice-president of the Haryana Olympic Association.