From sports arena to political battlefield

Ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha election, here’s a look at sportspersons who gave politics a shot.

Famous sporting personalities will be contesting in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Bhaichung Bhutia

The former India football captain promises to bring “clean politics” to Sikkim. His newly-formed political party Hamro Sikkim is contesting all the 32 Assembly seats in the state. Bhutia had earlier unsuccessfully contested for the Lok Sabha from Darjeeling on a Trinamool Congress ticket in 2014.


Mohammed Kaif

Former India cricketer Mohammed Kaif, known for his safe pair of hands, managed to garner just a little over 58000 votes when he fought on a Congress ticket for the Phulpur parliamentary constituency in 2014.


Dilip Tirkey

The ruling Biju Janta Dal fielded former India hockey captain Dilip Tirkey from Odisha’s Sundargarh constituency in 2014. He, however, lost the election to BJP’s Jual Oram by 18,829 votes. But this was not Tirkey’s first political tryst. He was elected unopposed to the Rajya Sabha in 2012 on a BJD ticket.


Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore

India’s lone medal winner at the 2004 Olympics, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore made a seamless transition from sports to politics. Currently, a minister in the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Union government, Rathore was given the key post of minister of state for youth affairs and sports with independent charge in 2017. The Olympics silver medallist will fight the forthcoming general election from the Jaipur Rural seat.


Mohammad Azharuddin

Former India skipper Mohammad Azharuddin has been involved in politics for a decade now. Azhar was handed a Congress ticket in 2009 and served one term representing the Moradabad constituency from Uttar Pradesh. In 2014, he, however, lost to BJP’s Sukhbir Singh Jaunapuria in Tonk-Swai Madhopur, Rajasthan. Azhar is now the working president of the Congress in Telangana.


Kirti Azad

Former India cricketer and a member of the 1983 World Cup-winning team, Kirti Azad is serving his third term in the Lok Sabha. The son of former Bihar chief minister Bhagwat Jha Azad, he previously served a member of Delhi’s legislative assembly representing the Gole Market constituency. In 2014, Azad won the Darbhanga seat in Bihar for the BJP, but he was later suspended by it for ‘anti-party activities,’ and he joined the Congress in February.


Navjot Singh Sidhu

Former India cricketer and television personality Navjot Singh Sidhu started his political career with the BJP in 2004. But the former India opener joined the Congress in 2017 and won the Amritsar East seat in that year’s assembly election.


Laxmi Ratan Shukla

Former India and Bengal cricketer Laxmi Ratan Shukla took the political plunge after retiring from the game. He joined the Trinamool Congress in 2016 and won from the Howrah Uttar constituency, and he has served as West Bengal’s minister for sports and youth services in the Mamata Banerjee government.


Deepa Malik

Deepa Malik, the first Indian to win a medal at the Paralympic Games, joined the BJP recently and may contest a Haryana seat.


Chetan Chauhan

Former India cricketer Chetan Chauhan joined the ruling BJP after retiring from the game. Known for his successful opening partnership with Sunil Gavaskar, Chauhan has been elected as a member of the Lok Sabha from Almorah in Uttar Pradesh twice but also lost from the same seat on three occasions. He is now the minister for youth and sports in Uttar Pradesh.


Gautam Gambhir

After months of speculation, former India opener Gautam Gambhir finally joined the ruling BJP in March. Gambhir, a member of the 2011 World Cup-winning squad, retired from cricket in December.


Krishna Poonia

Krishna Poonia, the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games discus throw gold medallist, will contest the 2019 general election representing the Congress party from the Jaipur Rural constituency. The three-time Olympian is pitted against fellow Olympian Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore. The minister of state for youth affairs and sports with independent charge is the incumbent from the seat.


Jyotirmoyee Sikdar

Track and field star Jyotirmoyee Sikdar made a smooth transition into politics way back in 2004. Sikdar, who won gold in the 800m and 1,500m events at the 1998 Asian Games, ran on a Communist Party of India (Marxist) ticket and won the Krishnagar Lok Sabha constituency in West Bengal by a whopping margin.


Prasun Banerjee

Former India captain Prasun Banerjee jumped into politics in 2013, becoming the first professional footballer to become a member of Parliament. On a Trinamool Congress ticket, he contested from the Howrah constituency and won a bypoll, and was re-elected for a second term in 2014.


Naveen Jindal

Industrialist Naveen Jindal led the Indian shooting team that won silver at the South Asian Federation Games in 2004. An Asian Games representative, Jindal contested elections the same year, winning the Kurukshetra constituency in Haryana for the Congress and retaining it in 2009.

But soon after the coal allocation controversy broke out under the second Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government, Jindal lost the seat to the BJP’s Raj Kumar Saini in the 2014 general election.


Pargat Singh

Former Indian hockey captain Pargat Singh, an Arjuna and Padma Shree awardee, joined the Shiromani Akali Dal in 2012 but was suspended from it in 2016. The following year, he joined the Congress.


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