“#unfollowsachin” trend on Twitter

The recent nomination of Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar for the Rajya Sabha seat has managed to stir up a storm in the entire country. Everyone, television channels, social media, general public, political parties has caught the bug.

Some are questioning the practicality of the nomination; some are in favor of a political seat for the little master; while some are terming it as a political ploy by the Congress party. The reactions are many and varied.

The Twitter has become battle ground between Sachin’s fans and people who object to his nomination for the coveted post.

There was a general consensus among the people that it was an ‘attention diverting tactic’ on the behalf of the ruling Congress party.

The party- plagued by allegation of corruption, scandals, and misrule- wants to shift the focus from the main issues, it was believed by some.

One campaigner flashed out the collective sense of outrage. According to him, by accepting the Rajya Sabha nomination from the Congress, and by personally meeting Sonia Gandhi, Sachin had, in a manner of speaking, sold his soul to the “corrupt” Congress.

Sachin Tendulkar had gone to meet Congress president Sonia Gandhi, on Thursday prior his Rajya Sabha nomination announcement.

The issue came into limelight on the social media site, Twitter. So much so, the Twitter site is buzzing with calls, for and against the #unfollowsachin trend; with message pouring in at the rate of over 100 tweets per 10 minutes.

The cause was vociferous on the web.

The chief minister of Bihar, Nitish Kumar tweeted- “ #UnfollowSachin still trending on twitter & I still believe 95% of them have nothing to do with hatred toward Sachin but towards Congress.”

Vijya Mallya was the most vocal supporter of the nomination- “Delighted to hear on the news that Sachin has been nominated to the Rajya Sabha. Befitting for an extraordinarily accomplished Indian.”

“I have unfollowed Sachin. He has become part of corruption now,” read one of the tweets.

One tweet sums the entire episode, “@sachin_rt U should’ve joined politics but not Sonia Gandhi, who is hated by the nation. Hence #UnfollowSachin. U’ve let down Indians.”

“Y #unfollowsachin? I thinks it’s great that he goes to d Rajya Sabha. Better than many many tht have gone before” reads the tweet of director and producer, Shekhar Kapoor.

The hashtag has not gone down well with the ardent fans of Sachin Tendulkar. The reaction was enormous. One person tweeted- “The most absurd hash-tag in recent Twitter.”

While the other read- “First you push him to score the 100th 100. Then you suggest him to retire. And now this. Mind your own work people!”

A majority of the people were of the opinion that the hashtag ‘Unfollowsachin’  is inconsequential and Sachin will always continue to rule the hearts of millions of Indians with his batting displays.

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68 % Indians don’t want Sachin in parliament !

Star cricketer Sachin Tendulkar’s nomination to Rajya Sabha was met with widespread bemusement on Friday, with many questioning whether the publicly apolitical batting superstar will have the time or inclination to serve as an MP.

President Pratibha Patil approved the government’s nomination of Tendulkar late on Thursday, offering him one of the 12 seats in the Rajya Sabha, or upper house that are reserved for presidential appointees.

He is the first active sportsman to receive the honour, with the seats normally gifted to people who have distinguished themselves in the arts, sciences or social services.

The adoration of the cricketer in India verges on religious worship – a fact not lost on Friday’s newspaper headline writers, with newspapers announcing that ‘God has a New House’.

Not to divert attention: Cong

Most members of the upper House welcomed the decision even as the Opposition felt this could be a move by the Congress to divert attention from the problems afflicting the party.

Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut maintained that Tendulkar should be given the Bharat Ratna but questioned the timing of his nomination to Rajya Sabha.

“Sachin is still on the field and has not retired. So why is he not being nominated for Bharat Ratna? And if Sachin is being used to divert attention from the problems plaguing Congress, then such politics should not be practised by them. Anything that Congress does is inspired by politics. Sachin is above politics,” he said.

Congress Rajya Sabha member Satyavrat Chaturvedi rubbished the opposition charge that Tendulkar has been nominated to divert attention.

“The Government, country and Parliament are above any individual. One person can neither build nor destroy the fate of a party or a government. The sooner this confusion is removed, the better. The kind of mindset Shiv Sena has, it can say anything,” he said.

Chaturvedi maintained that nominated members have also contributed immensely to Rajya Sabha.

“I have seen some nominated members who have made a lot of contribution. Can anybody ignore the contribution made by M.S. Swaminathan or Shabana Azmi? On the other hand, there were some who visited only once in a blue moon,” he said.

Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, Mayawati (BSP), Mulayam Singh Yadav (SP), Sudip Bandyopadhaya (TMC) and Raj Babbar (Cong) welcomed Tendulkar becoming a Rajya Sabha member.

Hope Sachin is not bored: Hema Malini

Rajya Sabha is a place for retired people and one hopes that Sachin Tendulkar does not get bored with his new responsibility, actress and former MP Hema Malini said today.

“It is a very prestigious thing. I am happy for him. This (RS) is for retired people…and I suppose he is not retired yet. I just hope he doesn’t get bored,” Malini, whose term in Rajya Sabha ended recently, said.

Noted director Mahesh Bhatt hoped that glory will follow the 39-year-old star batsman in Parliament as well. “He is a legend. It is great that he has been nominated. Glory is his co-traveller. This (nomination) is just deepening of his halo,” Bhatt said.

“Don’t forget Sachin had taken on the Shiv Sena and said that Maharashtra belongs to every Indian not just to Maharashtrians,” actress Shabana Azmi wrote in reply to a Twitter user, who said Sachin would never raise his voice against anything wrong.

Bandit Queen director Shekhar Kapur wrote, “I think its great that he goes to the Rajya Sabha. Better than many many that have gone before.”

Actress Gul Panag tweeted, “I am all for Sachin for RS. Better than a retired 60+ sports person no?”

While Bollywood celebrities came out in support of Tendulkar’s nomination, the twitter world seemed divided with ‘Unfollow Sachin’ trending on the micro-blogging website.

“UnfollowSachin trended not just in India, but worldwide. Point was made loud and clear that Sachin’s fans don’t like his Rajya Sabha entry,” a twitter user wrote.

“We like Sachin for his cricket. With GpCapt rank in AF he degraded Air Force Offrs. Same way many don’t like him degrading MPs post (sic),” another tweeted. “Give him a chance, he has always done right things in his life,” a supporter wrote.

Sachin interested?

The reaction of media commentators and some of the ‘Little Master‘s’ fellow cricketers was one of puzzled caution.

“Frankly, I am at a loss for words,” said former Mumbai and India team-mate Sanjay Manjrekar.

“I never realised these sort of things interested him. He is not one to express his views publicly and this would be a real test for him. I hope he can make a difference in parliament.”

Tendulkar, who turned 39 on Tuesday, has played more Tests (188) and one-day internationals (463) than any other player since his debut in 1989.

He is the highest run-getter in both forms of the game and last month became the first batsman to complete 100 international centuries – 51 in Tests and 49 in one-dayers.

Doubts on serving as a politician

Despite recent speculation about his retirement, Tendulkar has given no indication that he plans to hang up his pads, leading some to question how he could fit an MP’s duties into his hectic playing schedule.

“He plays almost right through the year, where is the time to go to parliament?” said another ex-international Akash Chopra.

“I will be disappointed if he did not contribute and make a mark for himself in the Rajya Sabha.”

Not a great idea: Bhogle

Noted cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle suggested the nomination was a cynical ploy to gain ‘political mileage’ out of Tendulkar, who has rarely, if ever, spoken out on political issues or professed any party affiliation.

“I don’t think it is the greatest idea,” said Bhogle. “He does not have the experience of governing or doing social work.”

No comment from the cricketer

Tendulkar has not yet commented to indicate whether he will accept the honour.

But news of the nomination broke just hours after he and his wife called on ruling Congress party president Sonia Gandhi at her residence in New Delhi.

“My only fear is that the stamp of a political party should not come on him,” said Chetan Chauhan, a former India opener who forged a career as an MP.

“The minute he associates himself with a party, the public’s perception about him will change,” Chauhan was quoted as saying by a newspaper.

Well-known cricketers who are sitting members of the elected lower house, or Lok Sabha, are former internationals Mohammad Azharuddin, Kirti Azad and Navjot Sidhu.

A snap online poll in a daily revealed 68 per cent of respondents did not want to see Tendulkar in parliament.

Another editorial labelled Tendulkar’s nomination a populist move that made ‘little sense’.

Pointing out that that Tendulkar’s cricketing duties kept him on the road for 216 days last season, said nominating an active sportsman ‘defeats the purpose’ of choosing eminent people who can enrich parliamentary debate.

“His new role will force Sachin to choose between his duty to the team and his job as a parliamentarian. It’s an unfair choice,” it said.

Modest Kohli says, scaling “Paji”‘s century of ton, a “mission impossible” !!

“It is mission impossible”

At 23 years, Virat Kohli is burdened with the passing of the baton. He is expected to fill in for Rahul Dravid in Tests and simultaneously be the team’s momentum dispenser during tight chases under lights. After his 183 stunned Pakistan, Kohli addressed the press with a fine blend of an old man’s diplomacy and a youngster’s sense of wonder.

A Pakistani scribe asked him: “Your celebrations after getting the hundred said something, did anything happen on the field?” Kohli’s answer was seconds away from being an explosive breaking news item but he played with a straight bat. “Ah nothing really, haven’t performed well in my previous matches against Pakistan, so I was keen to do well. There was nothing on the field. Yes in international matches, teams compete hard but I have friends in the Pakistan team too,” he said.

His eyes brightened when asked about a probable 200. “To be honest, it did cross my mind once. And I thought ‘no, this can’t be real’ and I just concentrated on the ball,” Kohli said. His best line was reserved for the last as he said: “It is mission impossible.” It was a reply lost in laughter after a journalist asked him whether he is dreaming about scaling Tendulkar’s century of tons!

The mirror that cracked

The media manifests itself in many ways. Usually it is a mirror that reflects truth but when the glass is distorted, reality acquires other shades. It happened in the manner in which a few television channels handled the Saeed Ajmal issue.

The controversy started perhaps with the Men in Blue’s machinations that led to a story being planted among the Indian scribes: Ajmal’s action has been questioned and an informal complaint has been lodged with the International Cricket Council officials.

On a wretched day when no one would come on record except for team manager Arindam Ganguly’s line about the issue being discussed, it was all about clutching at straws. The ICC also slipped in to denial-mode, as conveniently the august body had not received anything in writing.

Like an open secret that no one will acknowledge, the speculation hung uneasy in the air. Soon the man in question – Ajmal – was asked about his reaction to the whisper-campaign. The Pakistan off-spinner initially declined to talk but gradually opened up and said that his action has been cleared by the ICC and when asked about Sachin Tendulkar, he graciously and in a very respectful tone said: “He is a Sir. He is nearing the end of his career but he is still a very big player.”

Within minutes, a few television channels ran the story: Ajmal mocks at Tendulkar. The tweaker’s Punjabi drawl was misinterpreted as sarcasm and it proved to be a needless attempt to trigger tension between the rival camps ahead of the expected Indo-Pak final. The cricketing gods were obviously miffed and once Bangladesh trumped Sri Lanka and qualified for the summit clash, the talk about Ajmal died down but the damage was done.

One man, many moods

Mahela Jayawardene has a boyish charm and a quaint Sinhalese accent that often masks the intense competitor, who resides within him. During the course of a forgettable Asia Cup for him and Sri Lanka, the man displayed varied emotions ranging from anger to exasperation.

At a press conference, a sports hack from Colombo, repeatedly asked Jayawardene about the losing spree that started from the Commonwealth Bank Series finals in Australia. The Sri Lankan skipper answered patiently but once the media interaction concluded, he stepped down from the podium and had a heated exchange of words in Sinhala with the concerned scribe. Later it was gathered that Jayawardene had told his interrogator that the team is trying its best and questions that ‘mock’ the squad is not in good taste.

More was to follow once Sri Lanka crashed out following the defeat against Bangladesh. A Pakistani journalist bluntly asked Jayawardene about whether his men’s performance was a reflection of ‘poor captaincy.’ A bemused skipper said: “Amazing isn’t it, two weeks of cricket does that to you, eh? Well I don’t know, it is tough to answer that question. I have been beaten five times in a row before so I probably was in the dumps then! We played Australia in the (CB Series) finals and I can’t be a bad captain overnight. A captain is as good as his team and there are no secrets to it, just that he handles certain situations. We haven’t played good cricket, there are excuses for that. We were up against some quality teams – India, Pakistan and Bangladesh – and we haven’t played good cricket and that happens but we will move on.”

That Indian restaurant…

The yearning for home food forced a bunch of sports correspondents to race around town in an auto-rickshaw that presumed Dhaka’s packed roads were indeed F1 tracks! Muttering prayers and holding their hearts in their mouth, the hacks finally stepped in to a restaurant named ‘X-Indian.’ It was the biggest blooper of the tour. The food joint turned out to be a Chinese and Thai outlet. The misleading nomenclature was raised with the waiters and one said:

“Well its Xindian, meaning China!” And then the tired bunch of pen pushers cracked weak jokes like ‘Yeah, it is actually ex-Indian so it makes sense that they don’t serve our food.’ Finally hunger triumphed and a mix of soups and noodles were ordered in haste.

Weak smiles, wet eyes

Bangladesh’s dream run that concluded in a so-close-yet-so-far despair evoked a standing ovation from the press corps when a shattered coach Stuart Law and captain Mushfiqur Rahim walked in for the post-final media session. It was a moment that reflected the duo’s fierce self-belief and also revealed that even hardened journalists can at times forget their brief about being lizards on the wall and occasionally allow their hearts to dictate their responses. Law and Rahim kept nodding their heads with tired smiles and moist eyes at a time when Bangladesh had truly turned a corner.

Cairns wins £90,000 damages, but Modi is bankrupt !?!

This is a picture of lalit Modi which is used ...

Former New Zealand test cricketer Chris Cairns has succeeded in his “Twitter libel” claim against the former Chairman of the Indian Premier League, Lalit Modi.  In an judgment handed down today ([2012] EWHC 756 (QB)), Mr Justice Bean comprehensively dismissed the defendant’s defence of justification.

The Judge concluded that

Mr Modi has singularly failed to provide any reliable evidence that Mr Cairns was involved in match fixing or spot fixing, or even that there were strong grounds for suspicion that he was” [118].

The Judge went on to award damages of £90,000 to Mr Cairns, despite the fact that the defamatory tweet had been published to only 65 followers in England and Wales.  He indicated that his starting point was £75,000 but that, taking into account the attack on the claimant at the trial, the damages were to be increased by 20%.

An order for interim payment of costs of £400,000 was made.  Permission to appeal was refused.

We will have a full report on the case in due course.

(courtesy: Inforrm’s Blog)