New Delhi: Sachin Tendulkar has been nominated to the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of Parliament, ESPNcricinfo has learnt. Tendulkar met the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday and was offered a seat in the upper house's nominated category. He accepted the offer and his name went from the prime minister's office to the home ministry; and then the office of the President, who formally approved the candidate.
Tendulkar will fill one of 12 seats in the Rajya Sabha that are reserved for those persons "having special knowledge or practical experience in respect of such matters as literature, science, art and social service." Tendulkar is the first sportsman to be nominated in this category, which had no election process. (Former Indian hockey captain Dileep Tirkey, who took oath as a Rajya Sabha member on Wednesday, was elected.) Previous nominated MPs, who serve a six-year term, include the musician Ravi Shankar, the singer Lata Mangeshkar and the artist MF Husain.
Tendulkar's nomination had not been expected to meet with much opposition, given his stature in India. The nomination has come from the ruling Congress party, which is currently fighting political battles on various fronts. Before meeting the prime minister, Tendulkar and his wife Anjali met the Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who reportedly congratulated him on his hundred international centuries.
The reaction from the main opposition party, the BJP, was swift and unambiguous. The party's chief spokesperson, Ravi Shankar Prasad, said: "Sachin is a great player. We are proud of him. If Sachin is being nominated surely he will devote some time to Parliament."
The BCCI also welcomed the move. "We are happy that Tendulkar's services as a sportsperson has been recognised," the Indian board's chief administrative officer Ratnakar Shetty told PTI. "He's been a true ambassador for the country and he deserves it."