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Politics of Convenience

Published : Jun 18, 2019, 12:08 am IST
Updated : Jun 18, 2019, 12:08 am IST

Former cricketer-turned-BJP MP Gautham Gambhir was called out by the Twitterati for his hypocrisy over Sunday’s India-Pakistan World Cup match.

Former cricketer-turned-BJP MP Gautham Gambhir
 Former cricketer-turned-BJP MP Gautham Gambhir

In the aftermath of the Pulwama attack earlier this year, former cricketer Gautham Gambhir had vociferously called for cutting cricketing ties with Pakistan in the World Cup while citing, “All of us need to decide if sports is more important or lives.”

However, as India took on Pakistan in the World Cup match on Sunday, the Member of Parliament from East Delhi was there in England, a part of the expert panel on the India-Pak match. But it was Gambhir’s promotional tweet before the match that grabbed attention for all the wrong reasons. He promoted CricPlay, a cricket fantasy league, and invited people by saying, “Play Star Contest with me for #IndvsPak match on @CricPlay (sic).”

The Twitterati wasted no time to point out Gambhir’s hypocrisy and said that he was ‘making money’ out of a match he had once suggested forfeiting.

However, Gambhir isn’t the only one who is being condemned for his U-turn. When Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu went to Pakistan last year, the editor-in-chief of a news channel criticised the former cricketer whilst calling for a complete boycott on Indo-Pak matches. Turns out, the studio invited a Pakistani as a panelist for their cricket show ahead of the critical match.

Naturally, such double standards have been targeted and trolled by the netizens. But former cricketer Saad Bin Jung states that it is imperative that people change their opinions and move on based on what the government is doing. “If the government doesn’t consider having any enmity and isolating Pakistan, then I feel cricket should not be a part of politics. If the government believes that we need to bring Pakistan to the table, then cricket has to be used as a tool to open the dialogue,” explains Jung, adding, “I think that’s what Gautham Gambhir has done. All of us have changing opinions and it’s not hypocrisy because politics in recent times has changed a lot of perspectives, views, and political lines, and every one of us has to take our own call.”

While Jung’s statement draws attention to the outcry and anger people vented out after the Pulwama attack, it can be said that the fury of the people was only emotional and in support of the soldiers who lost their lives during the attack.

Former India cricketer Pragyan Ojha believes that all those who called for boycotting Pakistan matches were only showing their solidarity with the nation after the gruesome Pulwama attack.

“I believe my peers see themselves as citizens first and then as sportspersons. The intention was never to go against the spirit of sports, but the attacks shattered our hearts and emotions ran high to think of the ultimate sacrifices our jawans have made over the years,” Ojha shares, adding, “However, since the Government and the Board decided to go ahead with the match, nothing should stop us from being fully involved in the event.”

Whilst cricketers and analysts are being criticised for their double standards, they are facing the wrath of netizens for mixing cricket and politics based on the circumstances.

Former cricketer Arshad Ayub maintains that sports and politics are different, and that the former should not come under the purview of the latter.

“I don’t know what Gambhir and other cricketers said after the Pulwama attack but personally I always feel cricket and politics are completely different. Given such a wonderful track record in the World Cup, India should play against Pakistan and win. That’s the best answer we could give them back and we have done it in style,” explains Arshad.

Tags: gautam gambhir, 2019 world cup