NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Saturday urged cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar – who this week tweeted as part of a celebrity-fueled pushback against pop star Rihanna and her six-word tweet on the farmers’ protest – to “exercise caution while speaking about any other field”.
Mr Pawar’s comment came a few days after Tendulkar joined a long list of Indian actors, sportspersons and politicians tweeting on unity and farmers – a list triggered by Rihanna’s tweet and the wave of international headlines and support it generated.
“Many people have reacted sharply to the stand by them (Indian celebrities). I would advise Sachin to exercise caution while speaking about any other field,” Mr Pawar was quoted by news agency ANI.
#WATCH: NCP chief Sharad Pawar says, “Many people have reacted sharply to the stand taken by them (Indian celebrities). I would advise Sachin (Tendulkar) to exercise caution while speaking about any other field.” pic.twitter.com/adUmovzzDX
— ANI (@ANI) February 6, 2021
Mr Pawar also criticised the centre for saying the protesters were “Khalistanis or terrorists”.
“These agitators are farmers who feed our country. Therefore, it is not right to call them Khalistanis or terrorists,” Mr Pawar, who served as Agriculture Minister in the Congress-led UPA government, was quoted by news agency PTI.
Last week the veteran politician, whose party commands a significant share of the agrarian vote in Maharashtra, posted a critique of the new farm laws, claiming that the new central laws will adversely affect the Minimum Support Price (MSP) and weaken the mandi system.
A number of prominent people, including Tendulkar, fellow cricketer Virat Kohli, actors Akshay Kumar and Ajay Devgn, and iconic singer Lata Mangeshkar, have tweeted as part of what appeared to be a planned pushback against Rihanna, teen climate activist Greta Thunberg and others.
“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,” Tendulkar wrote, with the hashtags #IndiaTogether and #IndiaAgainstPropaganda.
The centre’s response was a caustic statement warning foreign celebrities and those tweeting of the “temptation of sensationalist social media hashtags and comments”.
Home Minister Amit Shah tweeted: “No propaganda can deter India’s unity…”.
Since then a document shared by Ms Thunberg and others has come under scrutiny, with Delhi Police believing it indicates a conspiracy against the country and may have been used to plan and incite the violent clashes that occurred in the national capital on Republic Day.
Earlier today External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar told reporters initial inquiries into the “toolkit” had “revealed a lot” and said: “We’ve to wait and see what else comes out”.
Lakhs of farmers across India are protesting the centre’s new farm laws, claiming it endangers their livelihood by allowing large corporate firms to bully them. The farmers also fear the loss of MSP.
The centre, however, insists the laws will be beneficial and will not scrap them. Instead, an 18-month stay was offered – after the Supreme Court paused implementation – but turned down.
Today the farmers held a peaceful three-hour chakka jam (blocking) of state and national highways in many parts of northern India.
With input from ANI, PTI