Declaring that he was “influenced” by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, cricketer Gautam Gambhir joined the BJP Friday. Union Minister Arun Jaitley called it a “significant induction”, amid speculation that he would be fielded from Delhi as the party’s candidate for May 12 election.
“I have been influenced by the Prime Minister, his vision for the country. This is a fabulous platform for me to do something for the country,” said Gambhir, 37, who was inducted into the party by Jaitley and his ministerial colleague Ravi Shankar Prasad at the party headquarters.
The former opening batsman, who played a key role in India’s triumph in the 2011 World Cup, was recently conferred with the Padma Shri. He said he will work for the country’s welfare as a member of the BJP.
Jaitley said the party will take a call at an appropriate time on whether to field him in the Lok Sabha polls. “Leave the decision to the party’s election committee,” he said.
BJP sources, however, said Gambhir may be fielded from the New Delhi constituency, currently represented by Meenakshi Lekhi. Jaitley noted that Gambhir grew up and studied in Delhi, highlighting his link with the city, and said the party will utilise his talent in the best possible way. Gambhir also met party chief Amit Shah during the day.
Members of the BJP’s Delhi unit, however, said Gambhir’s name had not been forwarded by them to the central committee that will select Lok Sabha candidates.“Gambhir did not join the Delhi unit, so the question of us sending his name for a ticket does not arise,” a party leader said.
The state-level committee Friday sent three names for each constituency to the central committee. This included names of all seven sitting MPs, along with two other options. “Other names include Leader of Opposition in Delhi Assembly Vijender Gupta and Sudhanshu Mittal from Chandni Chowk; former south Delhi mayor Kamaljeet Sehrawat and Pawan Sharma from West Delhi; Delhi BJP MLA OP Sharma from East Delhi; and Ram Veer Bidhuri and Brahm Singh Tanwar from South Delhi,” the leader said.
The AAP, meanwhile, lashed out at Gambhir, with spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj saying: “Anybody with some political interest would have predicted two things about Gautam Gambhir. One that he will soon join BJP, second he will contest from Delhi… he will also become a rubber stamp with no individual entity.”