Someone who always wore passion on his sleeve, dared to speak his mind and cared little for reputations, Gautam Gambhir’s new innings is expected to be equally eventful as white flannels make way for spotless kurta pyjamas following his landslide victory from East Delhi.
Gambhir, in cricketing parlance, hit a century on ‘debut’, winning his maiden Parliament elections by a massive margin.
He sort of demolished his opponents, securing close to seven lakh votes, leaving close rivals — Congress’ Arvinder Singh Lovely and AAP’s Aatishi Marlena — way behind.
The start has been typically ‘Gambhirsque’ with a direct sarcastic dig at his rivals Arvinder Singh ‘Lovely’ of Congress and Aatishi Marlena of Aam Aadmi Party after the people of East Delhi gave him an overwhelming mandate.
“Neither it’s a ‘Lovely’ cover drive and nor it is an ‘?????’ ??????????? It’s just the BJP’s ‘?????’ ideology which people have supported. Thanks a lot to all the @BJP4India and @BJP4Delhi team-mates for getting this mandate. We won’t fail people’s choice,” he tweeted from his official handle.
As a player, Gambhir certainly wasn’t the most talented in the Indian set-up which boasted the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, VVS Laxman, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid but it was his big heart that made him indispensable between 2007-2011, something he would like to bring to his political career.
But politics will be an entirely different ball game. The pitch will be very different and unpredictable from the 22-yards where he faced the likes of Brett Lee, Shoaib Akhtar or Mitchell Johnson in his prime.
For someone, who subscribes to ‘black or white’ philosophy, it will be interesting to see how the man from West Delhi’s upscale Rajinder Nagar performs in a regimented political set-up.
His naysayers often term him a bigot for his political stance but his fans on social media, who call themselves ‘Gautians’, find him as a man of conviction.
On Twitter and electronic media, Gambhir doesn’t play those half-hearted dab shots towards third-man but it is more of those inside-out lofted shots off spinners, which was his signature shot.
Whether questioning Ravi Shastri’s cricketing achievements or questioning Virat Kohli’s tactical acumen, Gambhir as an analyst took no prisoners.
He hails from a privileged background, father Deepak Gambhir being an established businessman but the filth of Delhi cricket created a street fighter in the feisty left-hander, which remained with him till his very last day in competitive cricket.
The Indian cricket system never gave him security and he in turn became a non-conformist, ruffling multiple feathers, first as a player and then as the Delhi captain.
As it is supposed to be in any walk of life, Gambhir’s decisions haven’t always been right but there is no question mark over his intent.
His ability to pick up fights with all and sundry have been legendary.
And then comes his fights with Delhi cricket’s establishment based on “his principles”.
A fight with former Delhi coach KP Bhaskar was based on allegations of the latter trying to deny opportunities to deserving junior players. There were arguments with Chetan Chauhan and he had his way — providing a raw Navdeep Saini the Ranji platform, straight from Karnal’s tennis ball circuit.
Gambhir refused to play under Ajay Jadeja’s coaching for latter’s involvement in match-fixing.
He stalled Manoj Prabhakar’s candidature for same reasons, so much so that his ‘uncomfortable questions’ to the former India all-rounder didn’t go down well with co-panelist Virender Sehwag.
But that’s Gautam Gambhir, for whom there has never been half measures — right or wrong.