Sports stars at the polls: Azhar, Kaif, Bhaichung, Tirkey crushed, big win for Rajyavardhan Rathore

It wasn't exactly a happy day for sportspersons as three former India captains Mohammed Azharuddin, Bhaichung Bhutia and Dilip Tirkey suffered heavy defeats with Olympic silver medallist Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore's thumping victory being the only saving grace

New Delhi: Olympic silver medal winning shooter Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore won his maiden Lok Sabha election Friday on a BJP ticket by a huge margin while cricketers, both current and former -- Mohammed Kaif and Mohammad Azharuddin, who contested on Congress tickets, football star and TMC candidate Bhaichung Bhutia and former India hockey captain and BJD candidate Dilip Tirkey, lost by massive margins.

Rathore, who bagged the double trap silver in Athens, won a heavyweight battle against Congress stalwart and former Union minister C.P. Joshi in Jaipur Rural by a margin of more than 300,000 votes. Rathore bagged a 632,930 votes, while Joshi managed 300,034.

Azhar, Kaif, Rathore and Azad
(From left to right) Mohammad Azharuddin, Mohammed Kaif, Kirti Azad and Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore.  

Azharuddin, who last contested successfully from Moradabad on a Congress ticket, lost by a big margin to BJP candidate Sukhbir Singh Jaunapuria in Tonk, Sawai Madhopur, in Rajasthan. Azharuddin got 412,868 votes and Jaunapuria 548,179 votes.

Bhutia, who raised a few eyebrows when he decided to fight from Darjeeling on a Trinamool Congress ticket, lost to BJP candidate S.S. Ahluwalia by nearly 200,000 votes. Bhutia retired from international football in 2011.

Bhutia's party colleague Prasun Banerjee, also a former India football captain, retained his Howrah seat in West Bengal by an impressive margin. Banerjee, who was elected to Lok Sabha last year in a by-poll, got 488,461 votes.

Kaif, famous for his match winning knock in the final of 2002 Natwest Trophy final, badly lost from Phulpur in Uttar Pradesh. He finished a distant fourth with just 58,127 votes. Kaif had also led the team to the U-19 World Cup triumph in 2000.

The third high-profile candidate former India hockey captain and Biju Janata Dal (BJD) candidate from Sundergarh, Dilip Tirkey, lost by more than 70,000 (70,513) votes to his nearest rival Juel Oram of BJP.

However, there was one lesser-known former India captain, who did win his second Lok Sabha election in less than 18 months. Former India and Mohun Bagan captain Prasun Banerjee retained his seat at Howrah constituency defeating CPI(M)'s Sridip Bhattacharya by a convincing 1.96 lakh (1,96,956) votes. Another seasoned politician and current Lok Sabha MP Kirti Azad won from Darbhanga beating RJD's Mohammed Ali Ashraf Fatmi by 1.67 lakh (1,67, 160) votes.

Among the sports administrators, Narendra Modi, the prime minister-to-be, won from Vadodara by a huge margin and in Varanasi while outgoing sports minister Jitendra Singh lost badly in Alwar to the BJP's Chand Nath. Jitendra Singh, who was seeking re-election, is also a scion of Alwar's erstwhile royal family.

Senior Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) official Jyotiraditya Scindia won from Guna. The BJP's Arun Jaitley lost in Amritsar. Jaitley's party colleague and BCCI joint secretary Anurag Thakur won from Hamirpur in Himachal Pradesh.

Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah of the National Conference surprisingly lost in Srinagar by a slim margin of 42,000 votes to Tariq Hameed Karra of the PDP.

All India Football Federation (AIFF) president and union minister Praful Patel lost from Gondiya in Maharashtra. The NCP leader was elected thrice consecutively from Gondiya.

Veteran football administrator and president of popular Kolkata club Mohammedan Sporting, Sultan Ahmed, a senior TMC leader, retained his Uluberia seat in West Bengal by an impressive margin. The senior TMC leader, who was also a former union minister, polled 5,67,194 votes.

Goan football club Churchill Brothers' supremo Churchill Alemao also lost in South Goa on a TMC ticket.

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