Unlike his international cricket debut in which he could only score 11, former cricketer Gautam Gambhir made a spectacular debut into his political career while inching towards victory in the East Delhi Lok Sabha constituency with over 6 lakh votes. Even his rivals with political experience stood far away from him in victory of margin.
Gambhir, who contested the elections on a BJP ticket, joined the saffron party on March 22 this year and thoroughly campaigned for the elections. Joining the BJP just one day before the start of IPL 2019, Gambhir ensured to have enough presence both during campaigning and IPL matches as commentator. Gambhir inclination towards politics started soon after his retirement in cricket, when he was very much vocal about trending issues of national interest.
His cricket background was a bonus point for his political debut and joining a party which is already in power also worked well in his favour. Let’s look at few things that helped Gambhir in his successful journey of politics.
Handling social media on front foot
Just before joining the BJP in March, Gambhir became very active on social media over issues of national interests. For instance, his comments on social media bashing Pakistan over Pulwama terror attack created a buzz in the media. In the attack, 40 CRPF Indian soldiers were killed in a suicide attack by Pak-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad. His remark to fight Pakistan on the battlefield instead of cricket field was widely appreciated by people of the country. He also stressed that India should not play against Pakistan in World Cup 2019 in England.
With such comments, Gambhir was able to acquaint people with the feeling of nationalism he has for the country. In some earlier interviews, he had also revealed that joining Army was his childhood dream. It can be said that this extrovert behaviour of Gambhir towards national issues enabled him to assure people that he can be a powerful politician in future.
Strong defence against Atishi’s allegations
Gambhir was also caught in a controversy when Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Atishi blamed him for distributing derogatory pamphlets about her among people. Atishi, who was Gambhir’s rival and AAP’s candidate in East Delhi constituency, placed the charges on BJP and Gambhir over the issue. In response, Gambhir came up with a strong defence over the matter rejecting all accusations made by the AAP leader. He even dared that he will publicly execute himself if found guilty. Such strong comments may have worked in his favour in the matter. Also, support from cricketers like Harbhajan Singh and VVS Laxman over the matter who guaranteed Gambhir’s innocence proved helpful for him.
The unsung cricketer and IPL hero
Gambhir has always got sympathy and appreciation from people due to his contributions towards cricket. He excelled in 2007 T20 World Cup and ICC World Cup 2011, in which India became champions. Also, he was the highest scorer from Indian team in 2011 World Cup final against Sri Lanka with 97, but was deprived of the ‘man of the match’ award which was handed over to MS Dhoni who scored 91*. Due to this, he was also called the unsung hero of the World Cup 2011 final.
A Delhi cricketer, Gambhir changed the fortunes of Kolkata Knight Riders by clinching two IPL trophies in 2012 and 2014. His role as a captain was widely appreciated and he got even more spotlight from cricket fans around the country. So, it can be understood that the strong foundation of Gambhir’s political journey has roots in his commendable and successful cricket career.