Former India cricket skipper and Indian National Congress party candidate Mohammad Azharuddin, who has shifted from Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh to Tonk-Sawai Madhopur Lok Sabha constituency in Rajasthan, is confident of returning to parliament for a second term.
"I was happy serving the Moradabad constituency and now the party wants me to shift to Sawai Madhopur and I am prepared for the long haul," Azharuddin told IANS soon after he heard of his new constituency.
The first thing Azhar did after hearing that he would be going to Sawai Madhopur is to express his gratitude to the Congress in a tweet.
"Gratitude to the Congress Party for choosing me, I dedicate myself to serving the people of Tonk-Sawai Madhopur."
"As a cricketer I should be prepared to bat on any pitch, I can't be asking for a batsman-friendly wicket, so I am prepared to go wherever the party wants me to," Azhar told IANS soon after the Congress included his name in the third list of Lok Sabha candidates.
Sawai Madhopur has traditionally been a Congress seat, the party winning it seven times. Bharatiya Janata Party won it thrice and the Swatantra Party won it twice.
Sitting MP Namo Narain Meena, the minister of state for finance in the Manmohan Singh ministry, has shifted to neighbouring Dausa, facilitating Azhar to move to a constituency where Muslims form a sizable number of voters.
Azhar challenged all those who spread stories that he had to move out of Moradabad because of his unsatisfactory work, and wanted them to go to his constituency and see the impressive record there.
"I have done a lot in the area by way of developmental work and also helped out the many needy people, particularly those with health problems," he said.
"It is the party's decision to shift him to Sawai Madhopur and all I can do is to promise the people of my new constituency that they would not find me falling short of their expectations.
"I know it's a backward constituency and if elected, I will strive to work for its development, particularly in the fields of educations and particularly in sports by creating opportunities for youngsters to excel."
Asked about the speculation that he was seriously looking for a safe seat in West Bengal and even sought Trinamool's help, Azhar denied it, saying most of these reports were "highly speculative without any basis. I can tell you no seat is safe for any party".
"Just want to clear the ongoing rumours about me joining other parties. To clarify, 'It's always been Congress and it will always be'," he tweeted.