Sport

Now, India's Sports Stars Tweet Against International Support to Farmers' Protests

Three former sportspersons – tennis player Somdev Devvarman and cricketers Irfan Pathan and Manoj Tiwary – struck a different chord by making veiled fun of the similarity of their colleagues' tweets.

New Delhi: Shortly after a section of Bollywood celebrities tweeted within an hour’s window in support of the Ministry of External Affairs’ backlash against international personalities’ supporting the farmers’ movement, it was the turn of India’s biggest sports personalities.

No less a name than Sachin Tendulkar tweeted along the same lines as the MEA’s announcement – that ‘external forces’ cannot be participants in India’s internal matters.

Notably, the MEA’s reaction was to tweets by music icon Rihanna, climate campaigner Greta Thunberg, YouTube star Lilly Singh, former adult star Mia Khalifa and several others. The women, all of whom have millions of followers on social media, came in the way of vicious abuse and trolling.

Similar tweets were posted by nearly all of Tendulkar’s contemporaries in the Indian cricket team. One time captain Sourav Ganguly, who is in the middle of a political tug-of-war between BJP and TMC in Bengal, did not tweet himself but retweeted Tendulkar and Anil Kumble’s tweets.

Virat Kohli, the current captain of India’s cricket side, who once asked a fan to go to Australia if he liked Australian batsmen, was among the sports stars to tweet.

The hashtags that Tendulkar used, #IndiaTogether and #IndiaAgainstPropaganda were repeated in all tweets. While the phrasing was varied, the gist of the tweets was remarkably similar across all sportsperson’s tweets.

A slightly median stance was struck by Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane, who skipped the #IndiaAgainstPropaganda hashtag and called for finding a solution together.

However, Sharma’s tweet irked Kangana Ranaut, who alleged that he was being equivocal and announced that protesters were “terrorists”. Twitter later deleted Ranaut’s tweet.

The prompt action was not limited to the Indian cricket team. P.T. Usha, once India’s fastest woman, and Manika Batra, one of India’s most successful table tennis players, also tweeted.

Badminton star and BJP member Saina Nehwal tweeted MEA’s original message, but used the exact text of Akshay Kumar’s tweet.

Also active on the matter were medal-winning wrestlers Babita and Geeta Phogat. Babita Phogat is a BJP member.

Notably, one of the first batch of replies to Rihanna’s tweet in support of the farmers had been from former Indian cricket Pragyan Ojha, who warned her that India does not need an outsider ‘poking her nose’ into its matters. Ojha, however, did not appear to be a part of the concerted hashtag campaign.

Early on Thursday, February 4, India’s MoS for Sports, Kiren Rijiju himself retweeted Raina and Batra’s tweets with a message.

Three sportspersons – tennis player Somdev Devvarman and cricketers Irfan Pathan and Manoj Tiwary – struck a different chord by making veiled fun of the similarity of their colleagues’ tweets.

Cricketer Sandeep Sharma also tweeted in support of the overseas backing of the farmers’ protests, but deleted his tweet.


Note: This article is being updated as developments take place.