Don’t know where I will contest from, am not the captain anymore: Azharuddin

February 19th, 2009 - 1:08 pm ICT by IANS  

Sonia GandhiNew Delhi, Feb 19 (IANS) Former Indian cricket captain Mohammed Azharuddin, who will be formally inducted into the Congress party Thursday, says he is confident the party would put up a good show in Andhra Pradesh in the upcoming general elections.
“I am sure it (Congress) will do well. I don’t know where I will be standing from. I don’t decide that as I am not the captain anymore,” Azharuddin told IANS ahead of his initiation.

“Let me join the party and get an idea of what it feels like to join,” Azharuddin, who was removed from the team after his alleged involvement in match fixing, added.

That Azhar, as he is popularly called, was joining the party had been on the cards for over a month. He had last month met several Congress leaders, including Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy and state in-charge M. Veerappa Moily.

“I also met up the Congress president Sonia Gandhi once and she was very encouraging,” said Azhar, 45, who still keeps a punishing exercise regimen and prides himself on his 34-inch waistline.

The stylish batsman was unsure if he would contest from Hyderabad, the city he hails from, which is a stronghold of the Muslim political party Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM), an ally of the Congress.

MIM president and MP from Hyderabad Asaduddin Owaisi is also a close friend.

“Honestly, I don’t know where I will contest from. It is up to the party to decide,” he said.

“But I have the good wishes of my family and they are happy with my decision.”

Sources, however, indicated that Azhar might be fielded from the Secunderabad Lok Sabha constituency.

Despite his premature exit from the cricket following allegations of match fixing, Azharuddin still has a huge fan following.

Last year, cricketer-turned-politician Dodda Ganesh and a friend of Azhar, joined the Janata Dal-Secular.

It was Azharuddin who reportedly advised Ganesh to join the JD-S though he was also being wooed by other national parties.

One of India’s most successful cricketers, Azharuddin’s innings came to an abrupt end after a disciplinary committee of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) imposed a life ban on him in December 2000.

Azharuddin challenged the ban in a court. The case is dragging on. Azharuddin now runs a successful event management firm as well as a health club called Est.

His entry into politics coincides with another cricketer, Chetan Sharma, joining the Bahujan Samaj Party.

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