Former India opener Gautam Gambhir, who retired from all forms of cricket in December last year, took the political plunge and joined the BJP on Friday. Gambhir is expected to be fielded by the party in the Lok Sabha polls from one of the seats in the national capital.
Gambhir, who turned out in 58 Tests and 147 ODIs for India, joined the ruling national party in New Delhi in the presence of Union ministers Arun Jaitley and Ravi Shankar Prasad. Gambhir played key roles in India’s triumph in the 2011 World Cup and the 2007 T20 World Cup.
“I am impressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision. I have contributed to the field of cricket and now hope to do more for the country”, the 37-year-old said on Friday.
He was conferred the Padma Shri award last week.
“Gambhir has excelled in his career and the party hopes to utilise his talent. The BJP will benefit from his talent,” Jaitley, who was the former president of Delhi & Districts Cricket Association (DDCA) which Gambhir represented, said.
BJP sources said Gambhir, who is a resident of Rajinder Nagar, may be fielded from the New Delhi constituency, currently represented by the party’s Meenakshi Lekhi. A final decision is yet to be taken though.
“I would like to thank Jaitley sir, Ravi Shankar Prasad sir and BJP for giving me this opportunity to be doing something special for the country. I have done all that I could in cricket and this is a fabulous opportunity for me to do something great for this country, take this party forward and make this country a far better place to live. With sir’s blessing, I am going to try my best,” Gambhir said.
Gambhir, who made his international debut in 2003, also led Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and Delhi Daredevils (DD) in the Indian Premier League. He led KKR to two IPL title wins in 2012 and 2014.
The Delhi southpaw follows in the footsteps on former India cricketers like Kirti Azad, Mohammed Azharuddin, Navjot Singh Sidhu and Mohammed Kaif, who have joined politics.
Gambhir, who averaged 41.95 in Tests and 39.68 in ODIs, finished with over 10,000 runs in international cricket in all three formats. He is the only Indian and one of only four international batsman to score hundreds in five consecutive Tests in the 2009-10 season.
He was also awarded the Arjuna award in 2008 and was the top-scorers in India’s two World title wins — 2007 World T20 (75 in 54 balls) and the 2011 World Cup (97 from 122). Post retirement, Gambhir has been involved in doing commentary work with Star Sports channel.