Sporting stars all set to fight it out on poll turf

Bhutia, a former India captain and the country’s most- capped footballer, is the Trinamool Congress candidate for the Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat. The recipient of many accolades and honours, including Arjuna Award and Padma Shri, Bhutia announced his retirement from international football in August, 2011.

Having made his name in football as a striker who rarely missed an opportunity to score, Bhutia has now set a different and bigger goal for himself, to secure the Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat for the Mamata Banerjee-led TMC. If Bhutia is looking to score a win in the hills, former India cricketer Mohd Kaif, known for his fielding skills and ability to get quick runs, will be hoping he emerges on top in the fight for the Phulpur Lok Sabha seat in Uttar Pradesh.

Kaif represented India in 13 Tests and 125 ODIs. His last outing for the country was in 2006, but he remains an active cricketer in the domestic circuit for Uttar Pradesh.

At 33 years old, Kaif does not quite fit into the mould of the venerable Indian political leader, but what Congress would be counting on is his record of securing big achievements at a young age.
Kaif first hogged the limelight for his performances as part of India’s under-19 squad. He had captained the side, which also included Yuvraj Singh, that won the Youth World Cup of 2000.

Kaif is not the only cricketer on Congress’s candidates’ list. Former India captain and current MP Mohd Azharuddin is also in the fray, this time from the Tonk-Sawai Madhopur seat in Rajasthan. Azharuddin played 99 Tests and 334 ODIs for India before he retired to pursue a career in politics.
BJP has in its ranks Rathore who is contesting from the Jaipur (Rural) seat in Rajasthan.

Rathore rose to fame after winning the silver in the Men’s Double Trap event at the 2004 Athens Olympics. He was the first sportsperson to win an individual silver for India since the 1900 Paris Olympics. He hails from Jaisalmer in Rajasthan. Former national hockey captain Dilip Tirkey, currently a Rajya Sabha member, will fight the Lok Sabha elections from Sundargarh in Odisha on BJD ticket. He is pitted against former union minister and BJP candidate Jual Oram and former chief minister Hemananda Biswal of Congress.
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