Millennium Post

Glory to the God of Cricket

Sachin Tendulkar’s nomination for Rajya Sabha has created the desired effect for the Congress, at least across the cyberspace and the various media platforms. For the last week or so, nothing else has generated more debate across the public forums as this piece of news. The reaction on the whole has been hostile towards the proposition of Sachin Tendulkar’s nomination by the Congress Party. But the Congress should be happy that people are at least talking about it. When was the last time that Congress was discussed for something other than policy paralysis, the aphasia of some of its leaders and rampant corruption? Not recently! That way Sachin has brought the Congress back to reckoning.

What are people saying generally?  One of the more caustic cartoons shows a poster outside Parliament that says ‘here is an MP who has been officially bought by an Ambani’. Another cartoon shows Sonia walking away with a poster of Tendulkar which says, ‘Youth Icon’ while at a corner Rahul Gandhi mourns at a similar poster with his own photo, dumped in a dustbin.

Yet another one shows that in a joint session of the Parliament, Sachin, mobbed by unruly MPs for autograph, is hiding behind the Speaker’s chair while she, in her inimitable style is asking the MPs to behave. There have also been satirical columns about how Sachin can introduce T20 ethos in the Upper House and bring in cheerleaders to pirouette after speeches. Former sportsmen and experts are divided on the issue. For some Sachin is not fit for the job, for some he is too much of a gentleman, for some there were better candidates if at all a sportsman had to become an honorary MP. 

It is really funny that people are holding Sachin’s lack of knowledge about issues and his soft and polite nature against his candidature. Rajya Sabha has seen worse members. This year itself, one of UPA’s allies and not a friendly one at that, has nominated three unsullied sycophants to the Rajya Sabha, candidates whose only credential has been to be efficient bootlickers of the party chief. And this is no exception. Every party has taken the widest possible liberty with their power to nominate candidates for Rajya Sabha and in many cases the nomination has been a reward, leading to listless candidates who have been unmitigated disasters. So the fear that Sachin may be unprepared for educated debates is unfounded because in most likelihood more than half the members are either under-qualified or disinterested. Sachin is at least earnest!   

But the question remains, if Sachin should have gnawed at the bait. The Congress is using him, he should have realised. But then, Sachin has never really been an outspoken defender of individual rights. He was as happy to be pawned on the IPL marquee as any wide eyed newbie desperate for fifteen minutes worth fame and few dollars more. He has never spoken out against excessive and tiresome cricketing schedules or misfit coaches. Sachin was always been a workhorse, an ox really, whose divinely anointed job was to pile run upon runs. If those runs helped India win, in most cases which it didn’t, fine, they were always added to his name. If they helped India win, so much the better. Given his cricketing acumen, which is not the greatest in the world by all means but one of the better ones, it is surprising how totally phlegmatic Sachin has been off the field. But then, no one ever said that batting needs intelligence of a different kind. Batting is an expertise, not an intellectual or civilising enterprise. Sachin has that expertise in plenty but has never managed to show any spark in any other matter. Some of his peers have had an extra muscle as thinking cricketers but Sachin unfortunately is not one of them.

There is also another misconception. That Sachin will speak on behalf of sports in the Upper House. This means that Pritish Nandy, when he was nominated, was expected to speak on journalism or poetry and Shabana Azmi on films. That would be stupid! Most people do not know that the Upper House is not really a television programme where you make a case for this or that every evening. Neither it’s a lobbying platform. The Upper House is a legislative arm, which discusses debates and passes votes on some of the most pressing issues of the day and time. By trying to push Sachin to talk about cricket, one is being patronising to both the functions of the House and the cricketer. And if Sachin really wants to do something about cricket, then Rajya Sabha is not the place. He should be on the ground coaching youngsters and teaching aspirants. That’s the only way to give back to cricket at least a part of what he has got from the game. 

Sachin’s nomination to the House of Elders thus stands the test of scrutiny. He is polite and devoutly uncontroversial and has never taken and is never likely to take a stand. He is most ill-equipped to stand among debates on international and national matters. He will keep quiet when necessary and plea work related absence when in doubt. Can a Party have a better MP at the Upper House?

The writer is Assistant Professor, School of Liberal Studies, Ambedkar University, Delhi. The views expressed are his own.
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