New Delhi: Sachin Tendulkar took oath as Member of the Rajya Sabha on Monday, while making it clear that his focus would be on cricket and hinting at concentrating on Parliament work after he stops playing the game.
"...I am here because of my cricketing career. I cannot take any focus away from my cricket. That is where it all started for me. I will focus on my cricket and as and when I stop playing cricket, I don't know when, I will start attending to other things."
"I don't want rumours to start that I have stopped playing cricket. I will let everyone know when I will stop playing cricket," he said when asked how he would assuage people who have raised questions on whether he will be able to do justice to the job in Parliament when he is still playing cricket.
Earlier, 39-year-old Tendulkar took oath as Member of the Rajya Sabha in the presence of Chairman Hamid Ansari and Union Ministers Rajiv Shukla, Harish Rawat and V Narayanasamy. Tendulkar, along with film actor Rekha and industrialist Anu Aga, was nominated by President Pratibha Patil on April 26.
"Cricket comes first," Tendulkar told reporters as he and wife Anjali were chaperoned by Shukla to Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari's chamber.
There was much excitement in the corridors of Parliament as a large number of officials gathered outside Ansari's chamber where Tendulkar took oath. A number of Parliament staffers took out their mobile phones to capture a glimpse of the cricketer. Asked whether Tendulkar's oath was special, Ansari said, "All oaths are the same. All members are same."
After taking oath, Tendulkar said it was a great honour for him to be nominated as a Rajya Sabha member by the President. Tendulkar also said the Rajya Sabha nomination has put him in better position to help not only cricket but also other sports in the country.
On apprehensions that he would not be able to devote much time to Parliament, Tendulkar made it clear that he was a nominated member of the Rajya Sabha and had not sought to be a member.
"See, I am a nominee. So, I didn't go to anyone to say that I want to become a Rajya Sabha member. It is an honour which I accept with full respect but I am here because of my cricketing career," he said.
Tendulkar said cricket had given him many things in life during the 22 years he has played the game and he had always dreamt of giving something back to cricket in the latter half of his life.
"Whatever I am today is because of cricket and I strongly believe that. Today, with the nomination as Rajya Sabha member, I think I am in a better position not only to help cricket but also other sports in the country, which is really important and means a lot to me. And I will try my best to help other sports," he said.
"But I believe there might be few obstacles along the way and a few challenges along the way. And I need help from my fellow parliamentarians, the administrators, media and our countrymen. I think, together we can make a lot of changes."
The cricketer said he would like to be remembered as someone who contributed to all sports in the country and not just by his cricket statistics. "I would finally like to say that I will be happy if I am remembered as someone who contributed to all sports in India rather than just my cricket statistics. That would be fantastic," Tendulkar said.