In what appears to be more bad news for Sachin Tendulkar, Lata Mangeshkar, Akshay Kumar, Ajay Devgn and Suneil Shetty, the ruling Shiv Sena in Maharashtra has defended the decision to scrutinise their digital conversations to ascertain if they were pressurised to tweet parroting the Centre’s Narendra Modi government’s line to counter Rihanna’s tweet.
Shiv Sena’s Rajya Sabha MP, Priyanka Chaturvedi, was quoted as saying, “They (Sachin Tendulkar and Lata Mangeshkar) are not just Bharat Ratna, they are Vishva Ratna. It’s a betrayal to them if you (the Modi government) is trying to force them to tweet under duress. Not just in India but abroad trust them. You are trying to break their trust (in these celebrities) because the central government is pressurising them.”
Maharashtra BJP leader Ashish Shelar said that his party condemned the state government’s decision to probe the digital conversations of Mumbai-based celebrities, who had tweeted to counter Rihanna’s social media post against the government crackdown on protesting farmers.
No sooner had Rihanna and other international celebrities tweeted expressing their concern over the government crackdown against India’s protesting farmers, a host of Indian celebrities were seen parroting the government line.
Tendulkar had tweeted, “India’s sovereignty cannot be compromised. External forces can be spectators but not participants. Indians know India and should decide for India. Let’s remain united as a nation.” The former India batting great had also used the same hashtags namely #IndiaTogether and #IndiaAgainstPropaganda that the Indian Ministry of External Affairs had used in its extraordinary response.
Many had raised suspicion on the timing and content of the tweets posted by Indian celebrities. Not only had they used similar hashtags, but Indian badminton star Saina Nehwal and Akshay Kumar had also chosen to tweet identical content.
Earlier this week, Maharashtra Congress leader Sachin Sawant said that the state’s Home Minister Anil Deshmukh had assured him about the probe to see if Indian celebrities were forced to parrot the government line.
“Home Minister .@AnilDeshmukhNCP Anil has assured .@INCMaharashtra Spokesman .@sachin_inc over a zoom call that the state intelligence department will prove whether . @SachinTendulk33. @mangeshkarlata etc were pressurised to tweet by the center,” Sawant tweeted.
— India TV (@indiatvnews) February 8, 2021
In the zoom conference, Deshmukh was seen assuring Congress leaders to launch a probe to ascertain if the Indian celebrities were pressurised by the Modi government. Many believe that the intelligence branch may seize phones belonging to Tendulkar, Mangeshkar, Akshay and other Bollywood celebrities, who tweeted to counter the social media post by Rihanna.