Legendary batsman Sachin Tendulkar, at the age of 39, is set to become a member of the Rajya Sabha, also known as the House of Elders.
The buzz that Sachin, whose name has been often discussed in the context of a Bharat Ratna, would be entering the Rajya Sabha started soon after he and his wife Anjali spent half an hour with Congress president Sonia Gandhi at her residence in New Delhi on Thursday. At the time, the visit was referred to as a ‘thanksgiving visit’ and Rajeev Shukla, union minister of state for parliamentary affairs and BCCI vice-president, who was present at the meeting, said: ‘The Congress president wanted to congratulate him for his 100 international hundreds.”
Soon after official word came that the prime minister’s office had recommended for the Rajya Sabha the names of Sachin, Bollywood star Rekha and industrialist Anu Aga, also a member of Sonia Gandhi’s National Advisory Council.
The Union Home Ministry immediately forwarded these for Presidential assent which, instead of taking a couple of days as expected, came in a few hours. News agency IANS quoted a Rashtrapati Bhavan spokesperson saying that President Pratibha Patil had approved of all three nominations. This now leaves Congress with two more places to fill from this category of nominated MPs.
Sachin’s entry to the Rajya Sabha was widely hailed by all sections of the political spectrum in Delhi. But back in Mumbai, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray was guarded in his reaction: “Whether or not the Congress gives Tendulkar a Rajya Sabha seat or not, it is between them. I do not want to say anything about this.”
As the master batsman pads up for his political innings, the obvious question is will he walk out of the cricketing arena? Shukla made it clear he won’t. “Why should he? People don’t stop working when they become members of the Rajya Sabha. If a journalist remains a journalist even after entering the Rajya Sabha, why should it be different for a cricketer?”