NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Saturday urged cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar – who tweeted earlier this week as part of a celebrity-fueled pushback against pop star Rihanna for 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 indicating support for those protesting against the centre’s contentious agriculture laws.
“Many people have reacted sharply to the stand taken by them (Indian celebrities). I would advise Sachin to exercise caution while speaking about any other field,” Mr Pawar told reporters.
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.
A number of prominent people, including Tendulkar, fellow cricketer Virat Kohli, actor Akshay Kumar and iconic singer Lata Mangeshkar, tweeted this week as part of the 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 had written, 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”.
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.
They say these laws will endanger their livelihoods by, among other things, allowing corporates to exploit them. The farmers also fear the loss of the MSP (minimum support price) system.
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