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Gautam Gambhir, Jayant Sinha not to contest Lok Sabha polls to focus on ‘cricket’, ‘climate change’

Their announcements on ‘X’ is seen as an honourable exit dictated by the party, which is planning to field new faces to beat anti-incumbency in the Lok Sabha elections.
Last Updated 02 March 2024, 09:32 IST

New Delhi: Indicating that the BJP may be benching a number of sitting MPs in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, lawmakers Jayant Sinha and Gautam Gambhir on Saturday announced that they have requested party chief J P Nadda to relieve them of electoral or political duties.

Cricketer-turned-politician Gambhir (42) wanted Nadda to relieve him from “political duties” to focus on the cricket commitments while Sinha (60), a former Minister of State, wanted to be relieved of “electoral duties” to concentrate on combating global climate change.

Their announcements on ‘X’ is seen as an honourable exit dictated by the party, which is planning to field new faces to beat anti-incumbency in the Lok Sabha elections, a strategy it used in previous polls to some degree of success in states.

It also came two days after the BJP held a meeting of its Central Election Committee chaired by Nadda and attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah among others. 

Sinha, who was Minister of State for Finance and Civil Aviation in Narendra Modi government's first term, said on ‘X’,  “I have requested party president JP Nadda-ji to relieve me of my direct electoral duties so that I can focus my efforts on combating global climate change in Bharat and around the world. Of course, I will continue to work with the party on economic and governance issues.”

A two-term MP from Jharkhand’s Hazaribagh, who is also the son of former BJP leader Yashwant Sinha, he thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and the BJP leadership for blessing him with “many opportunities”.

Gambhir, the East Delhi MP, said he has requested Nadda to “relieve me of my political duties so that I can focus on my upcoming cricket commitments”. He too thanked Modi and Shah for giving him the opportunity to serve the people. 

The left-handed batsmen, who retired from international cricket in 2016, has joined the BJP in March 2019 and became a candidate next month. He had defeated AAP's Atishi, now a minister in the Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government, in the 2019 polls.

Gambhir's exit from politics immediately attracted criticism from the AAP and Congress. Atishi claimed that the BJP has been fielding candidates without considering their eligibility or commitment to work for the people.

“It has become a trend and the BJP makes anyone its candidate, without considering their eligibility or commitment to work for the people. No elected representative of the BJP -- MP, MLA or councillor -- is visible in their constituency,” she told a press conference.

AAP MLA Kuldeep Kumar, who has been declared as East Delhi candidate, alleged that Gambhir cheated on the public of East Delhi after Mahesh Giri, who was MP between 2014 and 2019.

“They (BJP) have wasted 10 years. For the last 10 years, the public of East Delhi has been deprived of their MP. Gautam Gambhir has left today because he was aware of his condition in East Delhi,” he said.

Former East Delhi MP and Congress leader Sandeep Dikshit said the episode showed that MPs are not allowed to work in the Modi government. 

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(Published 02 March 2024, 09:32 IST)

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