Damage to India’s image by govt’s ‘obduracy’ can’t be remedied by cricketer’s tweets: Shashi Tharoor

As several Bollywood and cricketing stars rallied around the government in its pushback to the global celebrities expressing support for farmers’ movement, senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Wednesday said the damage done to India’s global image by the government’s “obduracy and undemocratic behaviour” can’t be remedied by a cricketer’s tweets.

India hit out at global celebrities such as singer Rihanna and climate activist Greta Thunberg for their support of the farmers’ protests. Several Bollywood and cricket stars as well as top ministers also rallied around the government in its pushback.

“For GoI (government of India) to get Indian celebrities to react to Western ones is embarrassing. The damage done to India’s global image by GoI’s obduracy & undemocratic behaviour can’t be remedied by a cricketer’s tweets,” tweeted Tharoor, who served as the minister of state for external affairs from May 2009-April 2010 during the UPA II government.

Tharoor’s tweet came after cricketing stars Sachin Tendulkar, Anil Kumble and Ravi Shastri used the twin hashtags — #IndiaTogether #IndiaAgainstPropaganda — to amplify the pushback to the global celebrities.

“Withdraw the farm laws & discuss solutions with farmers & you’ll get #IndiaTogether,” tweeted the former UN under secretary general.

Another senior Congress leader P Chidambaram said it is good that Rihanna and Greta Thunberg can wake up the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

“Come on MEA, when will you realize that people concerned with issues of human rights and livelihoods do not recognize national boundaries? Why did MEA comment on the military coup in Myanmar? Why is it ‘deeply concerning’ to the MEA?” he said in a series of tweets.

Why does MEA regularly comment on issues that are “internal” to Sri Lanka and Nepal, the former Union minister asked.

“Why did the PM of India comment on the assault on the Capitol building in Washington by the Trump storm troopers? It is sad that someone erudite and worldly wise like Mr S Jaishankar should allow such puerile reactions by the MEA,” Chidambaram said.

Earlier, former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, at a press conference, refused to comment on the tweets by the international celebrities extending support to the farmers’ protest, saying “this is our internal matter”.

Adding to the voices of Rihanna and Thunberg were American actor Amanda Cerni, US Vice President Kamala Harris’ niece Meena Harris, ‘Serendipity’ star John Cusack, who retweeted a post by Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate reading, “Let us talk about what is happening in India right now #FarmersProtest”, and former adult star Mia Khalifa who asked, “What in the human rights violations is going on?! They cut the internet around New Delhi?! #FarmersProtest.”

In a statement, the Ministry of External Affairs earlier slammed the remarks made by Rihanna and other celebrities and activists on farmer protests, saying the facts on the issue must be ascertained before rushing to comment on it, and asserted that the “temptation” of sensationalist social media hashtags and views is “neither accurate nor responsible”.

(With inputs from Hindustantimes)