Hyderabad: Former cricketer Ambati Rayudu, who has already announced his plans to enter politics, is keeping political parties in the two Telugu states guessing.
There is a buzz in political circles that Rayudu, who announced his retirement from the Indian Premier League (IPL) last week, is likely to join the Congress and contest for Lok Sabha from Telangana.
Former Indian captain and Telangana Congress working president Mohammed Azharuddin is reportedly holding talks with Rayudu in this regard.
Rayudu, however, has still not made up his mind which party he will be joining.
He met Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy last month, setting off speculations that he may join the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP).
Earlier, he had praised Jagan Mohan Reddy through a tweet.
Reacting to the Chief Minister’s speech at a meeting, the former cricketer had stated: “Great speech ..our chief minister@ysjagan garu.. everyone in the state has complete belief and trust in you sir..”
The 37-year-old, who was playing for the Chennai Super Kings (CSK), announced on May 28 that he is retiring from IPL.
The announcement came on the eve of the IPL 2023 final between the CSK and Gujarat Titans. He scored 19 off 8 deliveries in his last appearance and signed off on a happy note as his team bagged the fifth title with last ball victory over Gujarat Titans.
According to Congress sources, the party leadership has given Azharuddin, a former MP, the task of holding talks with Rayudu and to invite him to join the party.
The party is reportedly offering him a ticket for the Malkajgiri Lok Sabha seat.
Malkajgiri constituency comprising suburbs of Hyderabad has a sizeable number of voters from Andhra Pradesh who are settled in Telangana capital.
The constituency is currently represented by Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) president A. Revanth Reddy. Since the MP is planning to contest for Assembly elections scheduled later this year, the Congress leadership is considering the proposal to field Rayudu from Malkajgiri in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
Congress leaders feel that Rayudu, who hails from Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh, will get the support of settlers. The constituency also has a good number of voters from Kapu community, to which Rayudu belongs.
It was in April this year that the stylish middle-order batsman decided to enter politics. He declared that he wants to serve people.
He had refused to comment on which party he would be joining, saying he had received feelers from different parties, but was committed to making a difference to people. “I will take a decision at the right time,” he had said.
Rayudu stated though he was equally in love with Telangana, having spent so much of his life in Hyderabad, he had decided to serve the people of Andhra Pradesh.
He made it clear that he was not looking for options for a second career in cricket like coaching and commentary. “I have played for India and have achieved my dreams. I want to dedicate the rest of my life to helping others, especially children and youth achieve their goals and dreams,” he said.
He played for India in 55 ODIs between 2014 and 2019, and six international T20 matches, and scored 1,694 runs, including three centuries and 10 fifties.
He has appeared in 190 matches for CSK and Mumbai Indians in the IPL. His disputes with a fellow teammate and the nepotism-rife management during his young days earned him the tag of a rebel, and denied him further international opportunities, including the ODI World cup.
He was one of the rebel players who latched at the opportunity to play for ICL, before accepting a domestic amnesty offer from the BCCI and entered the IPL, and later, played for India in international cricket.
Inspired by his father, who would take him to different coaching camps to play cricket, Rayudu famously scored 210 and an unbeaten 159 against Andhra, becoming the youngest player in the history of Ranji Trophy to score a double century and a century in the same match and also captained the Indian under-19 team at the 2004 ICC World Cup. Last year, the CSK purchased him for Rs 6.75 crore.
Rayudu will join a rare bandwagon of Indian cricketers who entered politics, including the late Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi, Kirti Azad, Azharuddin, Navjot Singh Sidhu, Chetan Chauhan and Gautam Gambhir.