New Delhi: Master blaster Sachin Tendulkar started his new innings on Monday taking oath as a Rajya Sabha member in the chambers of RS Chairperson and Vice-President Hamid Ansari. Sachin is the first active sportsperson and cricketer to have been nominated to the Rajya Sabha under the Prominent Citizens Quota.
On his way to the Parliament, Sachin was accompanied by his wife Anjali Tendulkar and IPL chairman and MP Rajiv Shukla.
Sachin was nominated to the Upper House along with film actress Rekha and industrialist Anu Aga in April, but had to wait to take his oath until the end of IPL season 5. Sachin's nomination to the Rajya Sabha came after he completed a historic 100 international centuries in March earlier this year. He has previously vowed to steer clear of politics and is expected to hold the seat only as an honorary position.
The nomination of Sachin had sparked a political slugfest, with the opposition parties questioning the timing of the move by the government. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Shiv Sena had said that the timing of the nomination suggested that it was aimed at distracting attention from the scams for which the Congress-led government in under the scanner.
Anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare congratulated Sachin and appealed to him to raise voice against corruption. "We welcome and congratulate him. Sachin should raise his voice against corruption and also against those who are not in favour of Lokpal. We will keep supporting him outside," Anna said.
World chess champion Viswanathan Anand on Saturday said that Sachin serving as a Rajya Sabha member would be a big step in his life and wished the best for the cricket legend. "I hope he [Tendulkar] enjoys his role and he is able to do it very well. It's a big step for him and I think he will enjoy it," Anand said.
Indian cricket team captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said he was certain his senior teammate Sachin Tendulkar would make a contribution as a Rajya Sabha member also. "This [Rajya Sabha] is a new avenue for him and I am sure he will do well and contribute there also," Dhoni said.
Tendulkar, 39, is the world's highest run-scorer in both Test and one-day cricket and and has 51 centuries in Tests and 49 in one-dayers. He shows no sign of retiring in the near future. "I believe the President has chosen me after recognising what I have done for over 22 years," he said after he was nominated. "Cricket is my expertise. I would like to contribute to that field. I am a sportsman and I will always be a sportsman."
The Rajya Sabha has 250 members with six-year tenures, most of whom are elected. Tendulkar is among 12 nominated members chosen for their expertise in specific fields.
"I believe cricket has given me many things in life," Tendulkar told reporters after being sworn in. "I always had a dream of giving something back to cricket in the latter half. Today, as a nominated member of the Rajya Sabha, I am in a position to help not only cricket but other sports in the country."
Tendulkar said as a Member of Parliament, he would have a chance to create a legacy for all sports in India. "I believe there will be obstacles, challenges along the way. I will need help from fellow Parliamentarians, media and countrymen," he said. "I hope to be remembered as having helped all sports persons and not just for my cricket statistics."
Tendulkar joins former India cricketers Mohammad Azharuddin, Navjot Sidhu and Kirti Azad in Parliament.