Facing an uphill task of winning this seat that his party has never won in three decades, former Team India member and Congress candidate Mohammad Kaif is hoping that his cricketing pursuits will help him in playing a match-winning second innings in the political field. After Ram Pujan Patel of Congress won from this seat in 1984, the party has suffered defeat in the past seven Lok Sabha elections here.
Congress sprung a surprise this time by fielding Kaif from the seat, which was represented by India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in Lok Sabha in 1952. "Being a cricketer, I am going to watch the ball and focus on my shots. I don't pay attention to what others are doing. I am travelling to several places and the youth are connecting with me as they recognise me as a Team India player. Whatever I have done for my country with honesty and commitment on the cricket field, I will do in the field of politics, which is my second innings," 33-year-old Kaif told PTI in an interview.
Kaif is pitted against Keshav Prasad Maurya of BJP, AAP's Shimala Shree, BSP's sitting MP Kapil Muni Karwaria and SP candidate and former minister Dharamraj Singh Patel, among others, in this Lok Sabha seat which goes to polls on May 7. The hero of Team India's famous Nat-West Trophy final win against England at Lords in 2002, in which he scored an unbeaten 87 off 75 balls, said he is not worried about the experience of his rival candidates and has full faith in Rahul Gandhi's captaincy which he finds similar to that of Saurav Ganguly.
"Rahul Gandhi's leadership is similar to that of Saurav Ganguly. Both have clarity of thought and encourage youth. They believe in teamwork and let others flourish. Yuvi, Bhajji, Sehwag and I - all did well under dada's captaincy. Same can be said about Rahul Gandhi," said Kaif. He also said that his popularity as a cricketer is helping him connect with voters, especially youth.