Gautam Gambhir joins BJP, may fight from New Delhi

Gautam Gambhir joins BJP, may fight from New Delhi

Union minister Arun Jaitley hands over a bouquet to Gautam Gambhir at BJP headquarters in New Delhi on Friday. (Twitter/@BJP4India)

Cricketer Gautam Gambhir on Friday joined BJP amid indications that he will replace party's sitting MP Meenakshi Lekhi from the high-profile New Delhi constituency as the party candidate.

Gambhir (37), who played a prominent role in India's 2007 T-20 World Cup and 2011 World Cup victories, was inducted into the party in the presence of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who was the Delhi cricketing body boss when the former cricketer started his career, and Law Minister Ravishankar Prasad.

"I am joining this party after getting influenced by PM Narendra Modi's vision. I am honoured to get the opportunity to join this platform. I have done whatever I could for cricket and this is a fabulous platform for me to do something more for the country," Gambhir told reporters after his joining the BJP.

Jaitley described Gambhir's joining as an "important induction" into the BJP and said that the party would take a call at an appropriate time whether to field him in the Lok Sabha polls. Gambhir also met BJP president Amit Shah later.

The buzz is strong that Gambhir, who stays with his family in central Delhi's Rajender Nagar, will be fielded in New Delhi constituency by replacing Lekhi, who is said to be upset with the party's move.

BJP sources said they wanted a celebrity in the constituency to take on the Opposition candidate. The main Opposition candidate could be Ajay Maken from Congress or Yashwant Sinha if Congress and AAP come together.

Gambhir's entry to BJP comes at a time cricketer Kirti Azad, a sitting MP from Bihar's Darbhanga, has left the saffron party for Congress and is likely to be fielded in the Lok Sabha polls.

Commenting on the induction Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's media advisor Nagender Sharma tweeted, "BJP leaders telling about cricketing achievements of Gautam Gambhir as if they are appointing the captain of a cricket team and he (Gambhir) says he is impressed with PM Modi's achievements. Voters will not be that naive."