London: Martina Navratilova, a legendary name in tennis, does not believe in half-hearted shots. When she was an active player, her power-packed strokes used to leave her opponents gasping and shocked. On Sunday it was the turn of the Modi sarkar to feel her punching power. This time, not via a tennis racket but through a Twitter post.
Now that she has retired from the sport, she retains a deep interest in political happenings around the world. And she has no hesitation in making her feelings known. On Sunday she posted on Twitter a shot of the Hindustan Times report which quoted India’s Home Minister Amit Shah saying that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was not a dictator but the most democratic leader India has ever seen.
She posted a shot of the newspaper report and commented above it: And Now For My Next Joke ….followed by emojis.
Most Indian sportspersons have been apprehensive of making any comments against the government. If at all they make political comments, it is always in unison to show their support for the government. Their coordinated remarks make many people wonder if it is not all being controlled by hidden powers from behind the scenes.
One may recall an incident a few months ago when singer Rihanna had tweeted in favour of the protesting farmers and the government had expressed annoyance about it. This was immediately followed by a host of sports celebrities telling foreigners to desist from making comments about India. So similar were the wordings those reactions that it was clear that they had received instructions to make these comments along with giving the sample of how it should be.
So our sportspersons can be controlled like puppets but who will control international sports stars? Especially if they are all-time greats of the sport like Martina Navratilova?
Widely considered to be among the greatest women tennis players of all time, Navratilova has won 18 Grand Slam singles titles, 31 major women’s doubles titles, and 10 major mixed doubles titles, for a combined total of 59 major titles. She has won the women’s singles title at Wimbledon a record nine times.
So her statements carry the weight of her extraordinary achievements on the tennis courts and she is not afraid to express herself – unlike our sports stars. This is not the first time that she has blasted Narendra Modi. In the past too she has tweeted about how Donald Trump and Modi have tried to stifle truth as much as possible.
In 2019 Martina lashed out at the Modi government for trying to implement the National Registry of Citizens (NRC) in Assam. She shared an article about the NRC making four million people stateless by accusing them of being infiltrators. According to Martina, both Modi and Trump shared the same thought process.
Whenever international celebrities like Martina Navratilova or Rihanna or teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg make adverse comments about the happenings in India, it makes the ministers in India and their supporters uncomfortable. These international celebrities have a wide following and their comments and tweets influence the minds of many people.
On the last occasion, Rihanna’s comments were countered by the engineered reactions from Indian cricketers and Bollywood actors. Will the same response be seen again now that Martina Navratilova has made a barbed comment on Twitter? How effective will it be this time? How many times will people believe in fake and doctored comments by Indian sportsmen and actors? These questions may soon see an answer in the coming days.