Former World No. 1 badminton player Saina Nehwal on Wednesday joined the BJP, a move which will see the Hyderabadi straddle not just one world but two.
However, an Olympic year, will her much publicised entry into politics come in the way of her preparation for this summer’s Games in Tokyo?
“They said that she should continue her preparation for the Olympics as it is a separate field, and God willing, she will qualify. But, whenever the party needs her for campaigning or something, she can keep providing the support,” her father Harvir Singh told PTI.
“There is no hard line that she can’t do this or that. They have admitted her in the party and asked her to just give her best.”
Saina, still yet to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, is facing a race against time to make the cut for her fourth successive Olympics.
According to the BWF Olympics qualification rules, only two players from each singles category can qualify if their rankings lie within the top-16 by April 26.
Asked if she will campaign for BJP before the Delhi elections, Harvir said: “May be if there is a requirement. There will be discussions and as the party says, she will do it.”
“Saina is not playing any tournament right now, including the PBL (Premier Badminton League), so she has the time now. If they call her, she will definitely come. That is something the party will decide.”
Saina hasn’t won a title since the 2019 Indonesia Masters in January and could cross the first-round only six times in the last 14 tournaments that she has played.
In joining the BJP, Saina has followed in the footsteps of cricketer Gautam Gambhir, wrestlers Yogeshwar Dutt and Babita Phogat and hockey player Sandeep Singh.
“The discussion has been going on for last 5-6 months but because of the series of tournaments, it couldn’t be materialised. So depending on the party, whatsoever responsibility the party gives her, she will try to do to the best of responsibility,” Harvir said.