New Delhi : In a decision that has taken political circles by surprise, the Congress has announced Sachin Tendulkar as its prime ministerial candidate in the 2014 elections. Sources close to Sonia Gandhi told Tenali Rama that nominating Sachin to the Rajya Sabha is the first step in that direction.
“There will be continuity. Our present PM is a Rajya Sabha MP, Sachin too will be in the Upper House. Sachin has always let his bat do the talking, just like Dr Singh whose silence speaks louder than words. And finally, both Dr Singh and Tendulkar are obsessed with numbers,” said a Congress leader.
The `Sachin as leader’ plan was put in place after Rahul Gandhi opted out of the race, saying he wants to understand the real India first. The idea to rope in Tendulkar came when the Congress leaders saw him hitting his hundredth century against Bangladesh in the Asia Cup. “It showed a character that every politician needs. That you should always choose targets that you can achieve with ease,” said the source.
Sources say Tendulkar has committed himself to extensive campaigning in 194 Lok Sabha constituencies. He is reportedly willing to tour more areas, unless Rahul (Gandhi, let’s clarify) declares that he shouldn’t. Sachin is likely to have his first public meeting in Kerala, in keeping with the `God’s own country’ tagline.
In his first statement, after the Congress announcement, Tendulkar said, “It is wrong to believe that I do not know anything about politics. In fact, politics and cricket are very similar. There is a silly point in cricket, there are many silly points in politics. There is a fine leg in cricket, there are some fine legs among politicians. You get run out or stumped in cricket, they are always looking to get you run out or stump you in politics. And finally, like in cricket where there is a third umpire, in the UPA also we have a third umpire, who sits outside the government.”
Senior leaders in the Congress have reportedly warmed up to the idea of fighting the next elections under Sachin Tendulkar’s leadership. Foreign minister S M Krishna said working under Tendulkar’s leadership will be no work and all play. Salman Khursheed has suggested a minority quota for less successful cricketers like Vinod Kambli in the Congress. However, a former cricket captain-turned-MP is reportedly unhappy with the decision, pointing out that his captaincy record was better than Tendulkar’s.
While the BJP has criticised the Congress decision, calling it politicisation of Indian cricket, Digvijay Singh has alleged an RSS hand in the #unfollowsachin campaign that is trending on Twitter.
Tendulkar has also clarified that he has no intention of retiring from cricket. “I want to be a playful prime minister of India,” he said.