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Politics not a cakewalk but I am prepared for challenges: Gautam Gambhir


Press Trust of India New Delhi
The rough and tumble of the electoral arena is quite different from a cricket pitch but it's game on for star bat and political novice Gautam Gambhir, who says he is up for the challenge notwithstanding the controversies that have sprung up since he joined the BJP.
The cricketer-turned-politician, who is contesting his first Lok Sabha election as a BJP candidate from East Delhi, said he is new to the political game and sometimes doesn't know quite how to react to controversies.
Opposition parties have been mounting pressure for Gambhir's disqualification. First, his nomination was held up for a few hours on the last day of filing over a technical discrepancy. Then, two complaints were filed against him for allegedly holding two voter IDs. Besides, the East Delhi returning officer asked police to file a complaint against Gambhir for holding a public meeting allegedly without permission.
Pitted against AAP leader Atishi and Congress heavyweight Arvinder Singh Lovely, Gambhir admitted challenges in politics are very different but stressed he ready to tackle them.
This is new to me and I don't know how to react, Gambhir told PTI in an interview.
Referring to Atishi's remark that those who don't know the rules shouldn't play the game, Gambhir said, I know only one rule that is getting into politics with emotions, right intent and clean heart. That is the first rule of politics and I don't know what rules they are talking about.
"I have only one voter ID card from Rajender Nagar. I used to live with my maternal grandparents as a child at Ramjas Road (in Karol Bagh), but I never voted from or applied for any voter identity card from there," he said, responding to Atishi's allegations.
The 38-year-old, who retired from cricket last year, is the richest candidate in Delhi with declared assets of Rs 147 crore.
Gambhir, played winning knocks in two World Cup finals, said he didn't have a smooth run in cricket and believes challenges inspire and bring out the best in him.
I don't think it is going to be a cakewalk for me. I am ready for that challenge. I have made it very clear in all my speeches and meetings that we want to do positive politics. We want to take development to the people, Gambhir asserted.
The idea, he added, is not to made Delhi like London or Paris but a city where we and the next generation can breathe better air and drink pure water.
These basic things are more important rather than false promises, added the batsman who scored 75 runs of 54 balls in the 2007 T20 WC final and 97 runs in 2011 ODI WC final.
So what is tougher, playing those knocks in a pressure situation or contesting elections?

Stating that it is to early to comment, he said, I am just five days old in politics. Though I joined BJP a month back, I am literally totally new. Politics presents very different challenges as compared to cricket, but it is very exciting as well.
When we played cricket, we tried to bring happiness to people's faces. But here we can completely change their lives and I want to do that.
Gambhir, who has long been active on Twitter, attracting attention with his remarks on social and political issues, said he never wanted to be someone who tweets from an air-conditioned room and then does nothing about it.
I had two choices. To either stop tweeting and turn a blind eye about whatever is happening in the country or do something about it. I couldn't have opted for the first as I am too emotional about India so I chose the second, he said.
The former cricketer has been vocal about his view that there should be no bilateral cricket with Pakistan and said he does not see anything wrong about the neighbouring country being an electoral issue.
National security is very important. Why can't it be a national agenda or electoral issue. We have seen in last 70 years that talks have taken us nowhere. We had several opportunities in the past to take strong decisions like after 26/11. You missed it and now PM has taken those with Uri or Pulwama. Why blame a person who has shown the willpower and courage to safeguard this country, he said.
Known for speaking his mind, he said he is not going be diplomatic or politically correct in politics.
I don't need to curtail my emotions. I am not power or position hungry. If I was power hungry I would not have stepped down from Delhi's captaincy last year. My emotions are my biggest strength and that will always stay, said Gambhir.
Politics is now his first priority and he will focus all his attention on it, he declared.
Other commitments (commentary) will take a backseat, Gambhir said, adding that he never had a mentor in cricket and won't have one in politics either.
Comparing politics and cricket, he said they are completely different but results are important in both.
Being a sportsman, for me everyone is same. The youth of Kashmir should get the same opportunities as people in Delhi or Mumbai. All communities, including transgenders, should get benefit of development. We can't leave anyone behind and expect this country to grow, he added.

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First Published: Apr 29 2019 | 4:00 PM IST

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