Mohd Azharuddin – wife Sangeeta Bijlani in tow – walks into villages for canvassing in the manner he used to enter cricket stadiums across the world. However, the pitches (village roads) in Rajasthan's Tonk-Sawai Madhopur constituency are not quite the batting paradises he played on or the smooth outfields he dived on to stop the ball from going to the boundary.
The roads, he says in staccato bursts, are among many problems that will be solved while his wife promises to help. She also prefers him in whites, the 'colour of Test cricketers and politicians'. Excerpts from an interview:
Village roads in this constituency are in a deplorable condition despite Congress ruling Rajasthan until 2013.
Development will take place here. These things will be solved.
The Association for Democratic Reforms recently gave you 4.7 out of 10 for your performance in Moradabad as MP. How do you view this below-average rating?
These are all baseless surveys. I spent all my MPLAD funds six months before my tenure had to end. People there are very happy with my performance.
Then why did you come to Rajasthan?
That is Congress party's decision.
Have you tried Hyderabad, as people generally prefer to contest from their home turf?
I contest from where the Congress gives me ticket.
What do you have to say about you being termed as an outsider?
The Constitution of the country gives me the right to contest from anywhere I want to. This outsider thing is media-created. People here do not feel like this.
It is an effective method to reach out to the masses and do social service for them.
Could you not have done that by boosting sports infrastructure or giving free sports training to children?
I will do, if I get a chance.
Do you miss cricket? Don't you think you could have been a commentator or a mentor in IPL?
Yes. If I get an opportunity, I will certainly contribute for cricket.
What would you do for sports in Tonk-Sawai Madhopur?
I would definitely promote sports in the constituency. I will see what can be done and do whatever possible.