Cricketer-turned-MP Mohammad Azharuddin has dismissed as "useless talk" reports of non- cooperation by Congress workers in his Tonk-Sawai Madhopur constituency for being seen as an 'outsider', saying there is no restriction on anyone to work anywhere in India.
A section of the media reported that the sitting MP from Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh is facing opposition from party workers who are holding demonstrations and demanding that the ticket be given to a local party worker.
"I don't believe in such useless talk. I am an Indian and not an outsider anywhere in India. People from Chennai go to Mumbai to work. There is no restriction on anyone to work anywhere in India. My immediate aim is to do development work and I will do that," Azhar told PTI.
He said that contrary to the media reports, party workers were in fact cooperating with him and he is happy to contest from Rajasthan. Earlier, there was talk that he wanted to contest from West Bengal.
"I have been given a platform to serve my party and people. This is my immediate task and let me tell you that everyone is cooperating with me," said one of the most successful Indian captains who played 99 Tests and 334 ODIs for the country before retiring to pursue a career in politics.
"The party high command has decided to field me from Rajasthan and I am happy with it. I have good memories of Rajasthan from my playing days. Rajasthan has always been kind to me. I am meeting people. I have done a lot of work in my last constituency. I will do that (in Tonk-Sawai Madhopur) again," he said.
Azhar, however, admits the situation and issues in Tonk- Sawai Madhopur are totally different from that in Moradabad.
"Moradabad was different and Tonk-Sawai Madhopur is different. Obviously the problems are different," he said.
Asked if he was aware of the local problems in the constituency, which has a dominance of Gujjar and Meena communities, he said, "Of course I am. The main issue is unemployment. The city also lacks infrastructure like better roads. The water, too, is contaminated with chloride. These are the basic issues I am going to address," he said.
Azhar also ridiculed the (Narendra) 'Modi wave' and said the Gujarat Chief Minister's claims of development in his state was far from the truth.
"I don't think that there is any wave in favour of BJP.
The UPA government has done a lot of development work and as far as Modi's claims of development are concerned, Gujarat is at No 7 in the country on development parameters," he said.
"There is only one wave in the country and that is heat wave," he said on a lighter note.
Azhar has reinvented himself as a leader in the political field and admits that his career as a cricketer has helped him do well in politics.
"Cricket has taught me a lot. In sports, you learn to accept victories and defeats with grace and dignity. It is an ongoing process for me to bring happiness to my fans (in cricket and politics).
"When you lead, you accept responsibility. My responsibilities towards my countrymen will never change, whether I play cricket or not," he said.