A Congress MLA from Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh on Sunday demanded Bharat Ratna honour for cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni, a day after the former India captain announced his retirement from international cricket after an illustrious career. (More Cricket News)
As per the original statutes, sportspersons were not eligible for the Bharat Ratna. However, a revision of the rules in December 2011 made eligible "any field of human endeavour".
And in 2014, batting great Sachin Tendulkar became the first sportsperson, and only so far, to be conferred with India's highest award.
"The country's gem great Mahendra Singh Dhoni should be given Bharat Ratna," the MLA P C Sharma tweeted, saying the 39-year-old has made Indian cricket proud internationally.
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Dhoni, who had already retired from Test cricket, announced on Saturday that he will no longer play for India in the limited-overs' formats too.
"Dhoni is the Bharat Ratna of sports. He has lifted the country's name high in cricket, so he should be conferred with the highest civilian honour," PTI reported the former minister as saying.
Dhoni, regarded as one of the greatest captains the game has ever seen, has led India to two World Cup wins -- the 2007 World T20 and 2011 World Cup, besides the 2013 Champions Trophy victory.
Dhoni, who made his international debut in 2004, featured in 90 Tests, 350 ODIs and 98 T20 Internationals.
Dhoni has already been honoured with the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award in 2007, the Padma Shri in 2009 and the Padma Bhushan, in 2018.