Denied of any role in HCA polls, Azharuddin aims to enter Telangana assembly

With the elections of the Hyderabad Cricket Association just a few days away, several of the important names who had been associated with Hyderabad cricket for many years are now unable to enter the fray. This includes the former India captain and President of the HCA, Mohammed Azharuddin. They have all been disqualified by Justice L. Nageswara Rao from contesting the forthcoming elections of the HCA for conflict of interest.

The decision has blocked the aspirations of Azharuddin who had earlier announced that he will be seeking a second term. About two years ago, in an interview with, Azhar had outlined his plans of developing cricket in Hyderabad and reclaiming the glory that Hyderabad once had enjoyed in domestic cricket. But unfortunately, for reasons that are now well known, instead of getting better, things went downhill.

Azhar’s recent appeal to the Supreme Court against his disqualification has not made any headway. It is learned that Kapil Sibal appeared for Azhar and contended that the letter which stated that he was the President of the Deccan Blues cricket club was forged. He had never been the president of the club. So there was no case of conflict of interest against him. The SC did not pass any order and adjourned the matter to October 31. Since the HCA elections are scheduled to be held on Oct 20, in effect it rules out Azhar’s candidature.

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What next for Azhar?

Now the road that lies ahead of the former Indian captain seems to be leading away from cricket and veering towards the realms of state politics. As a politician, he was elected to parliament from Moradabad in UP on a Congress ticket. Now his political career is also at a crucial juncture.

He joined the Indian National Congress party in February 2009 and thereafter won the 2009 general elections from the Moradabad constituency to become a member of parliament. He defeated the BJP candidate Sarvesh Singh Chauhan by a large margin. But in 2014, contesting from the Tonk-Sawai Madhopur constituency in Rajasthan, Azhar got the number two spot behind Sukhbir Singh Jaunpuria of the BJP.

But about a month ago Azhar, who earlier became the Telangana Congress working president, disclosed that he would contest the upcoming Assembly elections. He is targeting the Jubilee Hills assembly seat. The assembly elections are scheduled to be held in November in Telangana along with Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Mizoram.

But what are the prospects of the Congress party in the assembly elections? In an interview to ANI, Azhar said that the party was expecting to do well. According to Azhar’s assessment, the trend is in favour of Congress but nevertheless, the party will have to work very hard in this election. The former cricketer, however, said Congress had not set a target on the number of seats it wanted to win.

Roller coaster ride

In his life and career Azhar has weathered several storms. As a player he was excellent, as a captain he led India in three World Cup tournaments, but after his cricket career ended, his life was a roller coaster ride. When he was elected as the President of the HCA, fans hoped that he would take Hyderabad to glorious heights but instead it plummeted to an all-time low.

Now the only factor that may come to Azhar’s aid is that age is still on his side. He is 60 years old but he keeps himself fit. In other professions 60 is the retirement age but in politics a person of that age is considered young. Having been a cricket player who had faced the world’s best opponents, he is aware of what qualities are needed to fight hard battles. Resolute dedication and courage are the key factors.

Hard work is needed

Nevertheless, Azhar will have to work very hard. At the best of times, politics is a minefield and one has to tread cautiously. State politics is perhaps even more complex because of its regional configurations.

There have been a few cricketers who in the past took up politics with varying degrees of success. While the Nawab of Pataudi failed to win a Lok Sabha election, Chetan Chauhan and Kirti Azad became members of parliament. In West Bengal Manoj Tiwari who has played in ODIs for India and represented IPL teams is now the minister of state for youth affairs and sport in the government of Mamata Banerjee.

A lot will depend upon the impression Azhar can create in the minds of the voters. Can he erase the old memories? Can he create a new image or bring up a new issue that will resonate with the minds of the voters? In politics unusual things can happen. He may pull it off or he may fail abjectly. It remains to be seen what fate will befall the former Indian captain who has been forced by circumstances to distance himself from cricket and focus on his political ambitions.

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