Party wanted the former India captains in its fold to galvanise the youth vote against Siddaramaiah’s Congress government in the 12 May assembly polls.
New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party’s attempts to garner the support of the youth of Karnataka for the assembly polls seems to have failed, as cricket superstars Rahul Dravid and Anil Kumble have refused to join the party.
Sources said the party was trying to woo the two Karnataka-born former India captains for the last several weeks, in its bid to galvanise the young voters against Siddaramaiah’s incumbent Congress regime. It was felt that the former cricketers’ clean image and immense popularity would help the party in securing the young and urban voters of the state in the 12 May polls.
There had been several rounds of talks, as the party tried to convince them to fight on its lotus symbol. There was even an offer to convince one of the two to fight the state assembly polls, while the other would be accommodated at the Centre. But the two players politely refused the offer, saying they didn’t want to jump into politics.
Sources also said the party would continue to try and woo the duo despite their steadfast refusal to join politics.
“Talks are still on. At least one of them desires to be fielded for the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha. We have not lost all hope yet,” said the source.
ThePrint approached both the former cricketers for comment but neither responded. However, sources close to Kumble confirmed that the BJP had indeed approached him and Dravid to join, but both had said no.
Dravid and Kumble are two of the biggest names from Karnataka to ever take the field for the Indian cricket team. Batsman Dravid scored 10,889 runs in 344 one-day internationals and 13,288 runs in 164 Tests, also finishing his career as the world record holder for Test catches with 210.
Leg-spin bowler Kumble, meanwhile, notched up 337 wickets in 271 ODIs and 619 wickets in 132 Tests — the latter being the third highest tally in history.
In their post-cricket careers, Kumble has become a sports management businessman and a cricket administrator (having served as president of the Karnataka State Cricket Association), while Dravid has taken to coaching and mentoring, recently leading the India under-19 men’s team to World Cup glory.