Azharuddin ready to contest elections

February 28th, 2009 - 6:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Hyderabad, Feb 28 (IANS) Cricketer-turned-politician Mohammed Azharuddin Saturday said he was ready to contest elections or play any role assigned by the Congress party leadership.
The former Indian captain, who returned home after formally joining the Congress party in New Delhi, told a news conference that he joined politics to work for uplift of the downtrodden and poor.

He termed as ‘absurd’ the thought that he joined the Congress party to get the life ban on him lifted. “It is absurd to even think like that. Had it been so, I would have come into politics long back,” he said.

“My case is with the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) and I leave it at that,” he said.

Azhar did not agree that the life ban imposed on him by the BCCI due to his alleged involvement in match fixing would have an impact on his new role as a politician. “I enjoy a lot of support from people,” he claimed.

The former captain, however, said politics would entirely be a different ball game. “It is a different field. In cricket, you get support from the crowd present in the stadium but in politics you need support from people,” he said.

“Cricket is my forte but I don’t know what I am good at. I am leaving this to people to decide,” he said.

He, however, said he was ready to help cricket in any capacity “If I can of any help in cricket, I will always do that.”

To a query, he said he was ready to contest elections. “I am open for anything, any role which the party deems I fit in,” he said.

When asked to comment on the reports that the Congress party might field him from Secunderabad Lok Sabha constituency, he said it was not advisable at this stage to name the constituency.

Azhar said he would be campaigning for the Congress party both in the state and other parts of the country. He revealed that it was in October last year that he decided to take a plunge into politics.

“I have travelled across the country and saw how people struggle. I thought if I can be of some help to them. If I can bring five to 10 percent change, it would be significant,” he said.

He felt that education and health were two areas where India would have to improve considerably to bring the facilities on par with developed countries.

“The Congress is the only party which can take the country forward. It is an old party with secular ideology,” he said while explaining the reasons for his choice.

Azhar later met Chief Minister Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy. The former cricketer showered praise on Rajasekhara Reddy government for taking several steps to improve the lot of people, especially downtrodden and minorities.

Earlier, Azhar was accorded a warm welcome by his supporters and Congress activists when he landed at the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport.

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