Cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar on Monday began an innings in politics, after he was sworn in as a member of the Rajya Sabha. But he made it clear that he won't be shifting any focus from cricket, as long as he is playing.
Accompanied by wife Anjali, he took the pledge in Chairman Hamid Ansari's chamber in the presence of Union Ministers V. Narayanasamy, Rajeev Shukla and Harish Rawat and Samajwadi Party member Ram Gopal Yadav.
The ceremony was telecast live.
The cricketer took the pledge in chaste Hindi, fumbling only once. After the brief ceremony, he told journalists that he wanted to work for all sports, instead of just cricket.
“It has been my dream to work for all sports and be remembered as someone who worked for all sports instead of just cricket statistics,” he said after the customary signing of the register. “There might be few hindrances and challenges along the way. I would need help from my fellow parliamentarians, administrators, media and our countrymen. I think, together, we can make a lot of changes.”
Such was his appeal that virtually every official of the Chairman's office and a host of the Rajya Sabha Secretariat staff were present.
“My focus will be on cricket,” he said, “because that is where it all started for me, but whenever I have the time, I would like to work for sports, all sports.”
Asked if he would be able to do justice to the job in Parliament when he is still playing cricket, he said, “I am here because of my cricketing career. I cannot take any focus away from cricket. That is where it all started for me. I will focus on my cricket, and as and when I stop playing cricket — I don't know when — I will let everyone know. I don't want rumours to start that I have stopped playing cricket. I will let everyone know when I stop playing cricket and start attending to different things.”
The 39-year-old cricketer, who was nominated along with actor Rekha and industrialist Anu Aga on April 26 to the Rajya Sabha, thanked the President for the honour.
This is the first time that an active sportsman has been nominated to the House.
Later, he went around the Parliament House and apprised himself with parliamentary procedures and rules.
According to a Minister, his wife wanted to know where he would sit.
“He has mastered everything. We hope he can master this department also,” remarked Indian Cricket Captain M. S. Dhoni.
Separately, anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare welcomed Mr. Tendulkar's nomination, and expressed the hope that he would raise issues of corruption and a strong Lokpal in the House.
“We are doing it outside. We hope a youth icon like him will do it inside the House,” he said.