Vinod Kambli tells Rana Ayyub and Shobhita Naithani why he has switched to politics after a patchy spell in cricket and cinema
Is your decision to contest elections a political plunge or a political stunt?
It’s not a political stunt for sure. I’m in politics only because I want to serve the people. As a cricketer, I served the country by playing cricket. And now that I have retired, I have decided to serve the people.
Why did you join the Lok Bharti Party instead of a mainstream party like the Congress or the Shiv Sena?
I did get offers from other parties during the Lok Sabha elections. But I wasn’t happy with their agenda. They failed to curb the rising prices and address the issues concerning the poor. The work done by Lok Bharti Party, even though it’s a small party, is huge. They focus on education, which has become a commodity. Someone has to solve the problems pertaining to this sector. People in Maharashtra want a change.
Did you join the Lok Bharti Party because you are a Dalit?
No. I am an Indian first. I don’t want to get involved in issues of caste and creed. When we play for the country, we play as a team. It’s about national integration. I will fight against the injustice committed against the minorities.
What are issues that you represent?
I will focus on sports, education and health. The only playground in my constituency is being used as a dumping ground. I have written to the authorities that this cannot go on. Also, my constituency doesn’t have a hospital; I hope to get one in place.
You are pitted against strong and experienced politicians from the Shiv Sena and the Congress. What are your chances of wining the seat?
They are very bright. I’ve left everything to the people of my constituency. I’m sure they will make me win.
Have you joined politics because it is a way out of the unsuccessful spell you’ve had in cricket and cinema?
God can’t keep his eyes closed all the time. I’ve gone through enough injustice, torture and pain. I have joined politics so that no one else goes through what I went through. No youth, who wants to represent the country, should go through what I went through. I want to provide them with facilities and give them proper guidance.
Do you still stand by the statement that you were discriminated against in the Indian team because of your colour and caste?
Yes. What I said on Sach Ka Saamna is the truth and only the truth. I have nothing to hide. I have started my new innings and I will definitely do my work with honesty.
‘God can’t keep his eyes closed all the time. I have joined politics so that no one goes through what I did’
You’ve said that your celebrity status would work to your advantage. But is that enough?
I’ve told the people of my constituency not to vote for me because I am Vinod Kambli, a celebrity. I want to work for them. I’m ready to face the realities of life.
Will you ask Sachin Tendulkar to campaign for you?
(Laughs) I will. I don’t want to disturb him at the moment because the Indian team is on a tour. But I’m sure Sachin’s best wishes are with me.
What if you lose this election?
I don’t like losing, no matter how tough the contest.
Who is Vinod Kambli – a cricketer, an actor or a politician?
A human being. The others are just qualifications.