New Delhi: Sachin Tendulkar’s nomination as Member of Parliament to the Rajya Sabha has been approved by President Pratibha Devisingh Patil. Tendulkar accepted the offer of a seat in the Upper House of Parliament after he met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Thursday. His nomination, which went from the Primer Minister’s Office to the Home Ministry, was formally approved by the President.
The Ministry has recommended four names, including those of Tendulkar, hockey player Dilip Tirkey and Bollywood actress Rekha for the Rajya Sabha. There is no word from the government on the fourth name. This is the first time that an active sportsperson has been nominated to the Upper House of Parliament. Tendulkar, who just turned 39 last week, is yet to retire from international cricket. He is expected to be away on cricket duty through 2013.
Tendulkar's nomination to the Rajya Sabha has come as a surprise against the backdrop of a long-standing demand for conferring him with the Bharat Ratna for his contribution to the game. The India legend completed the historic achievement of scoring 100 international centuries in March earlier this year.
Tendulkar, along with his wife Anjali, met Sonia Gandhi at her 10 Janpath residence in New Delhi on Thursday. Although officially the Congress said that Sonia wanted to meet Tendulkar and personally congratulate him on scoring 100 international centuries, but sources say the main agenda was his nomination for the Rajya Sabha.
The move to nominate him has been welcomed across the political spectrum, including the Congress as well as the Bharatiya Janata Party. "Tendulkar is a great player, we are proud of him. If he is being nominated, surely he would devote some time to Parliament," BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said. Another BJP leader, Najma Heptullah, said there could not have been a better choice than Sachin. "I am happy for Sachin. Last time when I spoke to the media on his birthday, I had said that I hope that government nominates him for Rajya Sabha. There is no one better than Sachin. I am happy."
However, his former Indian team-mate and now cricket analyst Sanjay Manjrekar said he was shocked at the news. "I am shocked. It needs to be seen if he can take out time. Expect him to bring some change," Manjrekar said. Another well-known cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle described it as a political gimmick, saying, "I don't think it is the greatest idea. He doesn't have the experience of governing or doing social work. People are trying to gain mileage out of Tendulkar."
Meanwhile the BCCI has welcomed the move. "We are happy that Tendulkar's services as a sportsperson have been recognised. He's been a true ambassador for the country and he deserves it," BCCI chief administrative officer Prof. Ratnakar Shetty said.