When Sachin Tendulkar was battering the opposition on the cricket field in the early 90s, his neighbour Bal Thackeray was on his way to topple the Congress government in the state.
But even as the politics-filled breeze in Bandra (East) turned into a storm that swept the non-saffron parties away, Sachin, unlike some neighbours in the Sahitya Sahvas colony, managed to remain unflustered.
Cricket author Sanjay Karhade, who has been following Sachin closely, said, “A lot depends on your upbringing. Sachin’s father was a poet, who liked to cohabit happily with people of similar interests. They did not have a place for politics.”
Karhade said Sachin had been getting many feelers from political parties but he stayed away. “Even politics in cricket doesn’t interest him. He did not allow cricketing and non-cricketing controversies to take control of his game.”
Flirting with trouble
Sachin courted his first political controversy in 2009 when the late Shiv Sena chief lashed out at him for stating Mumbai belonged to India, and that he was a proud Maharashtrian, but an Indian first.
Thackeray said Marathi people would not tolerate such a statement and even ‘advised’ him to confine himself to the cricket pitch.
True to his temperament, Sachin did not react to the jibe and remained unaffected by the promised public wrath. What he did was go on piling even more runs.
Talks of Tendulkar’s political inclination reached a crescendo when the Congress-led UPA drafted him in the Rajya Sabha earlier this year.
The cricketer, who will retire later this month, has denied full-time role in politics in the future. He has detached himself even from the Congress, refusing offers to campaign for the party in the forthcoming elections.
Sachin’s childhood friend Sunil Harshe said the sportsman is beyond politics because he does not have the time and energy to think of anything other than cricket. “He has been busy living up to the expectations of his fans by playing on the field. He did not want his game and focus to get disturbed by any other thought.”
Harshe is an active member of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, whose chief Raj Thackeray is Sachin’s good friend. Yet, Harshe said he does not remember Sachin talking politics even in private.
Karhade ruled out Sachin making a career in politics after retirement. “He is indifferent to things other than cricket. He doesn’t even like to respond to criticism, which is very unlike an aspiring politician.”