Outrage over Navjot Singh Sidhu’s Pakistan visit proves that hypocrisy is key to champion right-wing agenda in media

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Former India cricketer and a minister in the Punjab government, Navjot Singh Sidhu, recently travelled to Pakistan to take part in the oath-taking ceremony of Pakistan’s new prime minister, Imran Khan.

Navjot Singh Sidhu

Imran had personally extended an invitation to Sidhu and other former Indian cricketers such as Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev to be his special guests when he took oath of office as Pakistan’s 22nd prime minister.

Gavaskar and Kapil Dev turned down the request for unknown reasons but Sidhu decided to visit Pakistan. One of the reasons why Imran may have sent his invitation to these former India cricketers was because he played against them on several occasions and shared a good rapport.

While in Pakistan, Sidhu was seen hugging Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa prior to the ceremony.

Praising Khan while speaking to the state-run PTV, Sidhu said: “A new morning is here in Pakistan with a new government which can change the destiny of the country.” He hoped that Khan’s victory would be good for the peace process between the two neighbours.

However, the usual suspects in the Indian media, were quick to condemn Sidhu for his decision to hug the Pakistani general. These usual suspects are often seen flying the flag for the Centre’s BJP government. They are known for never questioning the government for either their ideological similarities or fear of losing alleged perks.

Leading the pack was Sudhir Chaudhary of Zee News, who tweeted, “Pained to see these pictures where @sherryontopp is hugging Pakistan Army Chief with such a broad smile and then sitting next to the President of PoK so happily. A cricketer who played for India once now doing #SelfGoal for India. Sad..”

Many users were quick to highlight his hypocrisy by posting the photos of himself with the then Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who was invited to be a guest at Narendra Modi’s swearing-in ceremony as Indian’s PM in 2014. Both Chaudhary and his boss Subhash Chandra had gleefully posed for camera with Sharif. Chandra had even used the opportunity to have Sharif launch his new TV channel, Zindagi. Others also posted Chaudhary’s photo with General Pervez Musharraf, taken in the past. In both the photos, not only is Chaudhary looking awestruck but also proud to have met these two personalities from across the border. There is no tinge of discomfort on Chaudhary’s face,

Also notable among those who condemned Sidhu has been Smita Prakash, the owner of news agency ANI, who wrote using incredibly disparaging language, “Laanat Sidhu saab, laanat. You have been deliberately made to sit next to PoK President…and you did not object. Kis muh say apnay mulk kay logon ko javaab dogey?”

Journalist Parvaiz Alam objected to the harsh language used by Prakash and wrote, “That’s very harsh. How many of us can recognize the so called POK leadership? Did he know about the seating arrangement in advance? Sitting in a public gathering along with the top civilian leadership, Pak Army top brass, ISI etc doesn’t mean endorsement.”

Swati Chaturvedi was more direct in her response to Prakash as the eagle-eyed journalist posted the ANI owner’s past tweet praising Modi for his unscheduled stopover in Lahore to meet Nawaz Sharif on 25 December 2015. The photos of Modi hugging Sharif had gone viral on social media. Chaturvedi wrote sarcastically, “Smita P on an even day! At his majesty’s Modi’s service.”

Twitter users reminding the champions of India’s right-wing ideology within the media fraternity are right to remind them about their glaring hypocrisy. If Sidhu’s visit to Pakistan is wrong, why was a similar visit by Modi called a masterstroke by them in the past? If Sidhu hugging a Pakistani general out of courtesy is blasphemous, why was it honourable for them to pose with a Pakistani general and prime minister in the past? It seems hypocrisy is a key prerequisite for being the the proponent of the right-wing ideology in India.

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