Breaking his silence in public following the controversy over his nomination to the Rajya Sabha, Sachin Tendulkar on Tuesday said, “I want to make it clear that I am not a politician. I am a sportsperson and will continue to be one.”
The 39-year-old said he was honoured to be nominated, but would continue playing cricket.
“I have been nominated after playing cricket for more than 22 years. It is an honour for me,” he said at a ceremony held to felicitate him for scoring 100 international centuries.
Ruling out the possibility of entering full-time politics while playing cricket, Tendulkar said, “At the time my name was nominated, I was told there would be many responsibilities, but the appreciation and awards that I have received are because of cricket. I won’t stop playing cricket and enter politics. Cricket is my life.”
For critics who have questioned whether he can make a meaningful contribution as a Rajya Sabha member, Tendulkar offered a straight-bat response. “I will do whatever I can for sportsmen. I would certainly want to contribute and I need your support.”
Tendulkar’s nomination has been dubbed by Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray as the Congress’s “Dirty Picture”.
Tendulkar, however, insisted that the honour bestowed upon him had been given to others such as singer Lata Mangeshkar and film industry stalwart Prithviraj Kapoor for their contribution to their fields.
“Whenever the honourable President nominates your name, it’s an honour. The nomination is for a person’s contribution to a field and it is a reflection of that.”