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Who'll be Rajasthan's 'sabse bada khiladi'?

Last updated on: March 28, 2014 10:27 IST

Who'll be Rajasthan's 'sabse bada khiladi'?

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Shahnawaz Akhtar in Jaipur

From Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore to Mohd Azharuddin, sporting stalwarts are taking the political plunge in Rajasthan. However, it’s no cakewalk for them as they face tough political opposition, reports Shahnawaz Hussain.

At least three international sport personalities are taking on political veterans in the Lok Sabha battleground of Rajasthan.

Out of the 25 seats in the desert state, the three main political parties -- the Congress, the Bhartiya Janata Party and Aam Aadmi Party -- have fielded one international sportsman each.

If former India skipper Mohammad Azharuddin is contesting on a Congress ticket from Tonk-Sawai Madhopur constituency, then 2004 Olympics silver medal winner shooter Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore is fighting from Jaipur rural seat on a BJP symbol.

And giving them competition is AAP’s Major Surendra Poonia who’ll be contesting from Sikar constituency. Major Poonia, who is a doctor and a sportsperson (athlete and weightlifter), has won several medals for India, and has also served the President of India as his bodyguard.

Interestingly, another national-level athlete Subhash Maharia, who has got himself nominated as an independent candidate, will challenge Major Poonia.

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Image: Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore and Mohd Azharuddin on campaign trail in Rajasthan
Photographs: Chandra Mohan Aloria/Rediff.com

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Azhar faces a tough fight in Tonk-Sawai Madhopur

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Maharia, 56, was as minister of state during Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government at the Centre, and has also been a three time member of parliament from Sikar.

However, this time around he did not get the BJP ticket, and so decided to file nomination as an independent.
The stalwarts of the sporting world will not have an easy time in the battle of votes.

Azharuddin, who had won the 2009 Lok Sabha election from Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh, has now been fielded from a different constituency by the Congress.

The cricketer-turned-politician will have to toil had to garner votes of the locals at the Tonk-Sawai Madhopur seat, a prominent tiger conservation territory. Against him is Subhash Jaunpuria, who is a real estate magnet. However, the relief for the cricketer is that like him, his opponent too is an outside candidate and belongs to Delhi.

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Image: Azhar greets supporters during a visit to Jaipur
Photographs: Chandra Mohan Aloria/Rediff.com

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Rathore up against a Congress veteran

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On the other hand, Rathore has been pitted against Congress heavyweight C P Joshi. It would be interesting to see if the shooter hits the political target.

Meanwhile, Poonia faces double competition from Pratap Singh of Congress and Sumedaband of the BJP in Sikar.
Senior journalist and media studies professor Narayan Bareth feels that these sports personalities will face tough challenges.

“There is no culture of sportsman-worship in Rajasthan. But then a sportsman who has a celebrity status and a good caste or community equation will be able to win the seat,” he notes.
 


Image: Rajvardhan Rathore campaigns in Jaipur
Photographs: Chandra Mohan Aloria/Rediff.com

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