|A sporting hero in his country, now Tendulkar has an even greater public responsibility [GALLO/GETTY]|
Over two decades and more, Sachin Tendulkar has got used to carrying the burden of a billion hopes each time he has walked out to bat.
Now he faces an altogether different challenge: proving himself as a capable lawmaker.
President Pratibha Patil has approved his nomination to the Rajya Sabha, India’s upper house of Parliament, meaning Tendulkar will become the first sportsman to take a nominated seat there when he takes oath in the coming days.
“He’s been a true ambassador for the country and he deserves it”
Chief admin officer Ratnakar Shetty
It will also be a rare case of an active sportsman going to Parliament.
Though the Indian cricket fraternity welcomed his nomination in general, some feared he may not be able to do much and could end up as a tool for politicians.
“We’re happy that Tendulkar’s services as a sportsperson have been recognized,” Board of Control for Cricket in India chief administrative officer Ratnakar Shetty said in a statement.
“He’s been a true ambassador for the country and he deserves it.”
Tendulkar, who holds many major batting world records and recently became the first to score 100 international centuries, has not retired from any form of the game.
The 39-year-old is a regular in Tests though he has limited his participation in one-day internationals. He does not play Twenty20 cricket for India but turns out for Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League.
The Rajya Sabha has 250 members with six-year tenures, most of whom are elected. Tendulkar is among 12 nominated persons chosen for their expertise in specific fields. Those from the fields of art, literature, science and social servies have been nominated in the past.
As a Rajya Sabha member, Tendulkar will be expected to attend its various sessions through the year and vote on important legislations.
“We’ll have to wait and see how much he is able to do in his new role,” former India captain Dilip Vengsarkar told reporters in Mumbai.
“Frankly, I am at a loss for words because I never realized these sort of things interested him”
Former India batsman Sanjay Manjrekar
“He is an active cricketer playing all forms of the game, so it may not be easy.”
Former India batsman Sanjay Manjrekar was not impressed with Tendulkar’s new foray, which will see him join former India cricketers Mohammad Azharuddin, Navjot Singh Sidhu and Kirti Azad as Members of Parliament.
“Frankly, I am at a loss for words because I never realized these sort of things interested him,” Manjrekar said.
“He is not one to express his views publicly and this would be a real test for him. I hope he can make a difference in Parliament.”
Tendulkar’s name was recommended by the ruling Congress party and there was also speculation that he might be asked to join the party in a bid to boost its image.
“Tendulkar has remained an apolitical person all this while and it remains to be seen if he will continue to be so,” said Vikrant Gupta, Group Sports Editor of the Television Today network that runs the leading Headlines Today and Aaj Tak news channnels. “The question is, will he take a proper political role now?”
Meanwhile, according to an online poll carried out by the Hindustan Times, 68 percent of people did not want to see Tendulkar in Parliament.