Apropos my earlier blog on pre-conditions to talks with Pakistan as an counter to Imran oKhan's ffer.
In the intervening period, his swearing in ceremony was held and he had invited his Indian cricket contemporaries. Sensible ones declined the invitation. The only political one who had, like Imran graduated to politics, accepted the invitation to attend the ceremony.
About Sidhu as a cricketer
In strictest sense of term Sidhu cannot be really called a cricketing contemporary of Imran. Imran's cricketing career was at its peak when Sidhu was cutting his teeth in international cricket. Like him, his on-field cricket also has multiple phases. He began his international as a stroke-less wonder in 1983, against the then mighty West Indies team in a domestic series. Sent in as an opener, he slept on the pitch and forgot the mandate for which he was sent in - to score runs. Hence, after spending considerable length of time on the pitch in slumber with single digit scores to show for, he was dropped.
Then he began his second tenure in 1987 World Cup as a man possessed, who had forgotten that you have to wait for the ball to be delivered. He would often meet spinners half way down the pitch to belt the ball out of the ground, and people loved it. He continued the same tempo outside the field and belted an old man to death. The case kept hanging for 30 years before he purchased his judgement. His career had spanned several eventful incidents, including him walking out of the Indian team during the tour of England in 1996. The incidents were always unsavoury, depicting the lopsidedness of his personality.
Sidhu the politician
It was natural that he went to join politics in the country, since he had also acquired a criminal record to buttress his claim. Irrespective of which side of the political divide he was on, people will recall his propensity to break conventions/protocols expected of elected representatives. He would participate in comedy shows, which were exercises in belittling every person and every institution, with celebrities' participation. To that extent, it was fully tolerable.
Sidhu the minister
But having been sworn in as a minister of the Punjab cabinet to moonlight with his continued participation in the said comedy show, Sidhu had shown his first expressive sign of disrespect to the established norms of public interest. A cabinet minister's is a full time job, requiring commitment 24x7. He challenged the establishment while being a part of it. He could have declined the cabinet position, but did not have the integrity to do so. It was a challenge to his public interest role, but the attendant consequences did not overtly have any national security imperatives.
Sidhu's participation in Imran Khan's swearing-in ceremony
But his going to participate in the swearing-in ceremony of Imran Khan is acceptable. Let me recall from the opening part of this blog, the they were not cricketing contemporaries in the truest sense. You may not be able to recall many international matches tests or ODIs which Imran and Sidhu might have played opposite to each other. With Sunil Gavaskar or Kapil Dev it is well known that they did have encounters on the field on many more occasions. As regards Sidhu, his place in the team became permanent only after Imran had retired from international cricket. Hence to call them contemporaries is not correct.
Invitation to Sidhu a ploy
That raises the question, was the invitation to Sidhu an ISI ploy? Indeed. Having regard to his propensity to make wild utterances couched in ornamental language with total disregard to consequences and also having regard to the fact that Sidhu is at present is at a crossroads with the central establishment, the Pakistanis simply laid a bait. Sidhu accepted it. Pakistanis are hailing him as a messenger of peace. In reality, when you watch the video, Imran did not even think it fit to shake hands when Sidhu draped him with a shawl as a congratulatory gesture. The utterances of Sidhu on his return to India check out as a ploy of the Pakistanis. These are reflexive of Imran's commitment to mischief in the garb of peace talks.
Unholy Pakistani ploy made successful
Is this nation so ungrateful to our protectors that a celebrity cricketer-turned-politician, goes and hugs the Army chief of Pakistan, who continues to violate ceasefires, and returns like a hero, be let off without the attendant consequences? I put the question to the readers.
(RVS Mani is a former Central government officer who shot to prominence as a whistleblower in 2009, when he alleged he had been forced to sign documents that fabricated a narrative of 'Saffron Terror'. His book, 'Hindu Terror: Insider account of Ministry of Home Affairs', was released recently.)
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL.)