The Maharashtra government will probe celebrities, including Bharat Ratna Lata Mangeshkar and Sachin Tendulkar, who had tweeted in support of India and the central government over farm laws.
Lata Mangeshkar, Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Akshay Kumar, Suniel Shetty, Karan Johar and many others had put out tweets that supported India. This followed tweets that were put out by some international celebrities, such as singer Rihanna and activist Greta Thunberg, on February 3 supporting the farmers’ protest.
Earlier, the Congress had demanded a police investigation into the tweets to find out if the celebrities were ‘pressured by the Bharatiya Janata Party’ to take to social media in support of the Centre.
It seems that the coalition Maharashtra government, comprising the Congress, the Shiv Sena and the NCP, believes that tweeting in support of India warrants an investigation.
There was a series of tweets after MEA's response to Rihanna's tweet. If a person, be it a celebrity, opine on their own, it's fine but there's a scope of suspicion that BJP could be behind this. We have cited common words like 'amicable' in these tweets: Sachin Sawant, Congress pic.twitter.com/mjLPrJsgpu
— ANI (@ANI) February 8, 2021
Maharashtra Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant met state home minister Anil Deshmukh with the demand of the probe.
Sawant was quoted as saying by Hindustan Times that there was a ‘similar pattern behind these tweets by the celebrities, including Akshay Kumar, Sunil Shetty, sportspersons Sachin Tendulkar, Saina Nehwal.”
“The contents of the tweets by Nehwal and Kumar are same while Shetty had tagged a BJP leader. This shows that there was a communication between the celebrities and the ruling party leaders. It needs to be investigated if there was any pressure from the BJP on these national heroes for such advocacy on the social media. If so, these celebrities need to be given more protection’.
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
Deshmukh said: “Our state intelligence department will enquire if the tweets were sent in a synchronised manner. The timing of all the tweets, and the coordinated manner in which they were sent out indicates a line of action and that this was planned”. He also singled out the tweet of Suniel Shetty, who he said had tagged a BJP member in his post.
The India celebrities’ tweets came with hashtags such as #IndiaAgainstPropaganda and #IndiaTogether, framed by the Ministry of External Affairs.
— Lata Mangeshkar (@mangeshkarlata) February 3, 2021
And even as these cricketers slammed exaggerations and untruths and stood by India’s honour, there was a section of people who were displeased by our cricketing icons for having backed the government.
They were especially severe on former Indian skipper and batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar.
Many netizens labelled him a 'spineless wonder' who is ‘simply parroting the government line instead of speaking up for the farmers’. Some of them went to the extent of discrediting his cricketing credentials as well and called him a 'selfish' batsman who only played for himself not for the team.
The move was criticised in several quarters, with veteran NCP leader Sharad Pawar warning the cricket legend to be more careful while commenting on farmers' issues. "I would suggest to Sachin (Tendulkar) that he should be careful while speaking on the issues related to other fields," Pawar said.
MNS chief Raj Thackeray also reiterated what Pawar said. "The government shouldn't make this mistake again. Lata Mangeshkar, Sachin Tendulkar are big but very simple people. They are having to face the ire of people because of what the government asked them to tweet," he said.
— ANI (@ANI) February 5, 2021
As international coverage of farmers' protests increased, the Ministry of External Affairs put out a statement saying that comments by celebrities tweeting on the issue were "neither accurate nor responsible".
For the record, Sachin Tendulkar, has been awarded the Bharat Ratna, is one of the greatest batsmen ever to have played cricket and is a true ambassador of the game.
However, since he has the spine not to toe the line of some of the naysayers, who advocate international interference into Indian internal affairs, insults have been heaped on him.