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.
India’s sovereignty cannot be compromised. External forces can be spectators but not participants.
Indians know India and should decide for India. Let’s remain united as a nation.#IndiaTogether #IndiaAgainstPropaganda
— Sachin Tendulkar (@sachin_rt) February 3, 2021
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.
— Anil Kumble (@anilkumble1074) February 3, 2021
We as a country have issues to resolve today and will have issues to resolve tomorrow as well, but that doesn’t mean we create a divide or get perturbed by external forces. Everything can be resolved through amicable and unbiased dialogue. #IndiaAgainstPropaganda#IndiaTogether
— Suresh Raina🇮🇳 (@ImRaina) February 3, 2021
Reaching a solution that benefits our great nation is of utmost importance right now. Let’s stand together and move forward together towards a better and brighter future. #IndiaTogether #IndiaAgainstPropaganda
— Shikhar Dhawan (@SDhawan25) February 3, 2021
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.
Let us all stay united in this hour of disagreements. Farmers are an integral part of our country and I’m sure an amicable solution will be found between all parties to bring about peace and move forward together. #IndiaTogether
— Virat Kohli (@imVkohli) February 3, 2021
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.
Stronger together 🇮🇳 #IndiaTogether
— hardik pandya (@hardikpandya7) February 3, 2021
Agriculture is a very important part of the machinery of the Indian economic system. Farmers are the backbone of any country’s ecosystem. This is an internal matter which I’m sure will be resolved through dialogue. Jai Hind! #IndiaStandsTogether #IndiaAgainstPropoganda 🇮🇳
— Ravi Shastri (@RaviShastriOfc) February 3, 2021
A slightly median stance was struck by Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane, who skipped the #IndiaAgainstPropaganda hashtag and called for finding a solution together.
India has always been stronger when we all stand together and finding a solution is the need of the hour. Our farmers play an important role in our nation’s well being and I am sure everyone will play their roles to find a solution TOGETHER. #IndiaTogether 🇮🇳
— Rohit Sharma (@ImRo45) February 3, 2021
There’s no issue that cannot be resolved if we stand together as one. Let’s remain united and work towards resolving our internal issues #IndiaTogether
— Ajinkya Rahane (@ajinkyarahane88) February 3, 2021
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.
We are proud of our own culture and heritage and are the true model of Democracy. Don’t interfere in our internal matters, we know how to resolve our own issues because we are one and only nation in the world upholding UNITY IN DIVERSITY.#IndiaTogether#IndiaAgainstPropaganda
— P.T. USHA (@PTUshaOfficial) February 4, 2021
— Manika Batra (@manikabatra_TT) February 3, 2021
Badminton star and BJP member Saina Nehwal tweeted MEA’s original message, but used the exact text of Akshay Kumar’s tweet.
Farmers constitute an extremely important part of our country. And the efforts being undertaken to resolve their issues are evident. Let’s support an amicable resolution, rather than paying attention to anyone creating differences. 🙏🏻#IndiaTogether #IndiaAgainstPropaganda pic.twitter.com/FhclAMLiik
— Saina Nehwal (@NSaina) February 3, 2021
Also active on the matter were medal-winning wrestlers Babita and Geeta Phogat. Babita Phogat is a BJP member.
खबरदार अगर किसी विदेशी ताकत ने हिंदुस्तान की तरफ आंख उठाकर देखने की हिम्मत की तो …
— Babita Phogat (@BabitaPhogat) February 3, 2021
— geeta phogat (@geeta_phogat) February 3, 2021
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.
My country is proud of our farmers and knows how important they are, I trust it will be addressed soon. We don’t need an outsider poking her nose in our internal matters!
— Pragyan Ojha (@pragyanojha) February 2, 2021
Early on Thursday, February 4, India’s MoS for Sports, Kiren Rijiju himself retweeted Raina and Batra’s tweets with a message.
— Kiren Rijiju (@KirenRijiju) February 4, 2021
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.
At least be original
— Somdev Devvarman (@SomdevD) February 4, 2021
When I was a kid, I never saw a puppet show. It took me 35 years to see one 😊 pic.twitter.com/AMCGIZMfGN
— MANOJ TIWARY (@tiwarymanoj) February 4, 2021
When George Floyd was brutally murdered in the USA by a policeman,our country rightly expressed our grief. #justsaying
— Irfan Pathan (@IrfanPathan) February 4, 2021
Note: This article is being updated as developments take place.