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Lok Sabha Elections 2019: In UP, no sportspersons in electoral fray this time

Unlike the past, no political parties have fielded sportspersons from any constituency in Uttar Pradesh this Lok Sabha elections.

lok sabha elections Updated: May 01, 2019 14:31 IST
Sharad Deep
Sharad Deep
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
lok sabha elections 2019,lok sabha polls in UP,UP lok sabha candidates
Former Indian cricketer Mohammad Kaif fought the 2014 Lok Sabha election from Phulpur on a Congress ticket and suffered an embarrassing defeat. (HT File photo )

Politics has always been a favourite hunting ground for retired sportspersons. Three such sports stars —shooter Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore and cricketers Chetan Chauhan and Mohsin Raza — are or have been ministers in the Union and state governments.

However, unlike the past, no political parties have fielded sportspersons from any constituency in Uttar Pradesh this Lok Sabha elections.

Sources indicate that political parties chose not to put their money on sportspersons even when a few of them wanted to jump into the poll arena.

Former Indian cricketer Mohammad Kaif fought the 2014 Lok Sabha election from Phulpur on a Congress ticket and suffered an embarrassing defeat. He was outclassed by BJP candidate Keshav Prasad Maurya by just a little over 58,000 votes.

“I found out that politics divides people. I wanted to serve the people and do something for the society and that’s why I fought elections,” Kaif said.

Former India cricketer Mohammad Azharuddin has also been involved in politics for a decade now.

While he was elected MP from Congress in 2009 from Moradabad, in 2014, he lost to BJP’s Sukhbir Singh Jaunapuria in Tonk-Swai Madhopur in Rajasthan.

Also Read | Lok Sabha Elections 2019: Gautam Gambhir settles in for long, steady innings in politics

Former Ranji Trophy team captain Jyoti Yadav too tried to carry forward his political lineage on a Samajwadi Party ticket from Allahabad (West) constituency but had to suffer a defeat.

His father Gopal Das Yadav was a Lok Dal MLA from the same seat from 1984-89. He lost to Atiq Ahmed in 2002.

“Politics is in my blood as I have seen my father working hard for the people. I too have been serving people even when I was playing cricket. Though I lost elections, I haven’t stopped working for the party,” Jyoti said.

While praising the sports development in the tenure of the then chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, left-hand opener Jyoti said that establishment of an international stadium in Lucknow and conduct of the 2016 Junior Men’s Hockey World Cup were landmark achievements of the SP regime.

“I have been working hard on my political career and I am sure to fight election again in future. Sportspersons always get extra-ordinary response from people as well as within the party,” he added.

Among all sportspersons in UP, former India opener Chetan Chauhan has been the most successful in politics so far. He has been a two-time Member of Parliament and was elected to UP house from Naugaha Sadat seat in Amroha in 2017. With the BJP returning to power after almost 15 years, Chauhan was made UP’s sports and youth welfare minister.

The BJP, meanwhile, seemed to have relied most on sportspersons in 2019 elections.

The party has fielded Rajayavardhan Singh Rathore from Jaipur Rural, cricketer Gautam Gambhir from East Delhi and former football goalkeeper Kalyan Chaubey from Krishnanagar seat in West Bengal. It has also fielded Wrestling Federation of India chief, Brij Bhushan Saran Singh from Qaiserganj seat. Chief of the Paralympics Committee of India and Union minister Rao Indrajeet Singh in Gurugram, senior vice-president of Indian Olympic Association and Ex-BCCI boss Anurag Thakur from Hameerpur too have been trying their luck on BJP tickets.

Sitting MLA and gold medallist discus thrower Krishna Punia is fighting on Congress ticket against Rathore in Jaipur Rural constituency, but the biggest name in Congress’ pocket is none other than the boxer Vijendra Singh, who has been contesting from South Delhi.

Out of eight sportspersons-turned politicians, only three, Rajyavardhan Rathore, former Punjab’s leg spinner Ashwini Manna and footballer Prasoon Banerjee, could made it to the Lok Sabha in 2014.

It would be interesting to see that how many of the seven sportspersons in fray could make it to the Lok Sabha this time.

First Published: May 01, 2019 14:31 IST

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