New Delhi: Shuttling from badminton to politics, Olympics bronze medallist Saina Nehwal joined the BJP on Wednesday, in a major acquisition for the saffron party just days ahead of the assembly elections in Delhi.
Nehwal's formal induction into the party was announced at a press conference in Delhi. Born in Haryana, she is one of India's most successful athletes and has a huge fan following.
Saina said she would continue to play badminton and will work for the BJP simultaneously. Along with Saina, her elder sister Chandranshu Nehwal has also joined the BJP.
"Today I have joined a party that has done a lot for the country. I hope to do a lot of good work," Saina said on the occasion, adding that it was a privilege to get a chance to work with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
She is the latest sportsperson to join the BJP after the likes of cricketer Gautam Gambhir, who won the Lok Sabha polls last year, and wrestler Babita Phogat, who lost in the Haryana Assembly polls.
A former world number 1, she has been honoured with the country's top sporting awards like the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna and Arjuna Award. She has both Olympics and Commonwealth Games medals under her belt. In 2015, the 29-year-old became the first Indian woman shuttler to achieve the World No. 1 ranking. She is currently ranked ninth.
Nehwal had spoken in support of the Narendra Modi government and its schemes several times in the past. She was also one of the first celebrities to voice her support for the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC), which have sparked protests all over the country.
Just after the results of the 2019 Lok Sabha election had become clear, she tweeted ‘Phir ek baar Modi sarkaar’, the main campaign slogan of the BJP.
In December, she was also among the many Twitter users who posted identical tweets lauding Prime Minister Modi’s speech at Ramlila Maidan in Delhi. "I’m hearing a thought provoking speech from @narendramodi sir #RamlilaMaidan," she had tweeted after the PM spoke on the Citizenship Amendment Act. Nehwal was trolled heavily on Twitter with screenshots of the identical tweets.
She was also among the sportswomen who put up identical tweets on Diwali, thanking PM Modi for his initiative to empower women, with the hashtag #bharatkilaxmi.