Senior Indian cricketers led by captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni today joined the growing chorus, demanding that Sachin Tendulkar be conferred the Bharat Ratna and said the maestro deserves the highest civilian award for the services he rendered to the country through the sport.
Sporstpersons from other fields, including former hockey captain Dhanraj Pillay, also joined political parties in demanding that Tendulkar be conferred the award.
"Yes, 200 per cent, because he is an ideal candidate, he has served the country for 21 years with a few more to come. As a cricketer, you know, if he doesn't get it, then I don't think there's anyone who'll get the Bharat Ratna ever," Dhoni told reporters in Chennai.
"I think he's done really great things for the country, taking cricket to the next level. He's known even in places where they don't know about the game, so I think it's a very big achievement taking the country forward. He's done remarkably," he said about his childhood idol.
Tendulkar's World Cup-winning team-mates Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh also felt that he deserves the Bharat Ratna for his services to the game for more than two decades.
"I don't know the rules and regulations of awarding the Bharat Ratna. The whole of India wants him to win the Bharat Ratna and as a fan, I also want him to get the award," Sehwag told reporters at a promotional event of IPL team Delhi Daredevils here.
Yuvraj said in Chandigarh that "Sachin Tendulkar should get Bharat Ratna for his services to the game and he deserve it the most."
Harbhajan felt Tendulkar has given joy to the Indian people with his exploits on the cricket field for more than 21 years and it is high time that he be honoured with the Bharat Ratna.
"Sachin Tendulkar is a great player. The way he has taken Indian cricket to new heights in the past 21 years of his career, there can't be enough words to describe his contribution. Everyone prays for him when he steps on the field and certainly it is the right time to honour him with this award," Harbhajan said in Jalandhar.
Former hockey captain and Olympian, Pillay felt Tendulkar deserves the 'Bharat Ratna' for winning many a matches for India and for masterminding the World Cup victory.
"Sachin certainly deserves to be conferred the Bharat Ratna for the way he has been playing for the last 22 years. He was the mastermind of our World Cup victory," said Pillay, who has represented India in four Olympics and hockey World Cups, in Mumbai.
Union Energy Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde also said Tendulkar deserved to be honoured with the Bharat Ratna.
"Just like Donald Bradman, Tendulkar has brought happiness to the cricket fans of the world with his batsmanship. He deserves to be conferred with the Bharat Ratna," Shinde said at a book-release function in Mumbai.
Political parties have also said they support any move to confer the Bharat Ratna on Tendulkar.
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