As opinions keep on dividing Indians on Twitter over the ongoing farmers' protest in the country, international pop star Rihanna's tweet created a ripple effect all over the nation. As a response, the Ministry of External Affairs resorted to quickly release a statement about the “vested interest groups” who have managed to “mobilise international support against India”.
Without much ado, Bollywood’s actor, Akshay Kumar, quickly tweeted out his support of the MEA’s statement. He was followed by Sunil Shetty, Ekta Kapoor, and Karan Johar. Indian sportspersons also followed the suit and posted almost in similar lines trending the #IndiaTogether and #IndiaAgainstPropaganda hashtags. It was surprising to see many of the cricketers, who had otherwise been mum to previous matters of social justice, tweeting in favour of the government's stance. However, something that didn't surprise us was the tweet that came from badminton ace Saina Nehwal.
If we could recollect this is the third time she has made no effort but just resorted to a simple "Copy and Paste" of tweet. Her post on Thursday evening was an exact replication of what Akshay Kumar had shared.
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
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 https://t.co/LgAn6tIwWp
— Akshay Kumar (@akshaykumar) February 3, 2021
Saina Nehwal had cleared the air for all when she joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in January 2020. It made her a part of the ever-expanding list of retired or soon-to-retire sportspersons to join the ruling party in what can only be guessed as an attempt to stay relevant.
What, however, stands out and looks peculiar is the fact how she repeatedly copies and pastes tweets that become a subject of mockery by other Twitteratis. In December 2019, while Prime Minister Narendra Modi was giving his speech at the Ramlila Maidan, a strange trend broke out on Twitter. Nehwal tweeted, “I m hearing a thought-provoking speech from @narendramodi sir #RamlilaMaidan (sic).” She was among the many Twitter users who posted the same tweet.
— Saina Nehwal (@NSaina) December 22, 2019
All the shared tweets missed an apostrophe between ‘I’ and ‘M’ and a hyphen between ‘thought’ provoking. Twitterati soon started mocking the player by sharing screenshots of her post along with other identical tweets. One user said, “Saina Nehwal doesn’t have a mind of her own anymore. She is just a BJP IT Cell.”
Earlier in October 2019, many sportswomen had posted an identical tweet: “I thank @narendramodi sir for his initiative to honour and empower women this Diwali. Acknowledgement motivates us to work harder and make India proud. #bharatkilaxmi (sic).”
Sports personalities such as Mary Kom, PV Sindhu and Manika Batra had shared their support to the Bharat Laxmi initiative, aimed at empowering Indian women. All these stars faced criticism for sharing such identical tweets.
Saina, who is ranked 19th in the world, has not gone past the quarterfinal stage of any of the Badminton World Federation (BWF) tournaments in the past two years. In fact, Nehwal joined politics exactly a year after she won her last major tournament. It was at the Indonesia Masters in January 2019. And if it is not deliberate, Saina still eyes a spot at the Tokyo Olympics, which will be held in July 2021.
Sportspersons in India are usually inert on most social and political issues. A complicated network of the system, the government, and the expectations from society coerce them to be part of the world that revolves around the sports arena, the medals, the awards, a few brand endorsements, a couple of tweets praising the Prime Minister. Beyond that, as seen during the ongoing farmers' protests, they remain the open celebrities with a lot of power to sway opinions if only they took a stance that is honest and responsible.
The series of tweets, made effortlessly using "Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V", shows the sluggishness of the Public Relations (PR) firm who has been handling Nehwal. They should trudge carefully before posting on behalf of the icons. Once a no. 1 player in the world, is made to look ridiculous when she fails to voice her original thoughts.
It is still hard to believe Nehwal forsaking her ambitions for glory on the court in an Olympic year that is only revealing the opportunism she has struck joining the BJP. But is it the only option she is left with during the twilight of her career that looks less rosy for the shuttler?
The views expressed are of the author and not of the organisation.