Sachin needs to take strategic timeout

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Rajya Sabha MP Sachin Tendulkar has no time. In fact, he has had no time ever since India won the World Cup last year. That is ostensibly the reason why arguably one of India’s most famous Mumbaikars has no time to be felicitated by his own city.

I was unhappy to read a Mid-day report today about how despite three city Mayors of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) writing to Tendulkar on different occasions, requesting that he spare some time for his own felicitation, the little master has ignored all overtures. While former Mayor Shraddha Jadhav had extended an invite after the World Cup win at Wankhede stadium, the latest letter was sent by Mayor Sunil Prabhu after he scored his 100th hundred. Tendulkar reportedly chose to stay mum.

I think it is an uncharitable thing to do. Sachin may have his political preferences – reason why he accepted the Rajya Sabha nomination and perhaps why he chooses not to go to a Shiv Sena-dominated BMC function – but at the end of the day, the Mayor is the first citizen of Mumbai. And by extension, he or she represents the city where Sachin learnt his footwork. Decency and courtesy demanded that he should have responded to the invites, which the report suggests, he did not.

I am aware that in a country, where he is called the God of cricket, it is blasphemy to criticise him. But then when Tendulkar picks and chooses which matches he will play for the country according to his convenience and not according to India’s needs, he exposes himself as human. As captain of Mumbai Indians till this IPL season, he expects Mumbaikars to display city loyalty and cheer the city team. Yet, he fails to respond when a city body wants to share the spotlight with him. You don’t claim to be duniya hila denge hum without being moved yourself, do you?

To be fair to Sachin, he does have his reasons for behaving the way he has. Relations between Tendulkar and Shiv Sena have been frosty for some time. In 2009, Bal Thackeray had ticked off Sachin for his remark that “Mumbai is part of India and that every Indian has an equal right over the city”. The Sena supremo went to the extent of telling Sachin to concentrate on his game and not get involved in politics. Now the Sena, which is upset that Tendulkar takes time out to attend private bashes but ignores BMC’s invites, has decided that there will be no more appeals.

The hassle with being Sachin is that you expect him to do everything just right. I guess that is the price you pay for having lived such an unblemished life. Even more so now that he is an Elder. Mumbai and India expects him to walk that extra mile to win over hearts who are hurt for a trivial reason.

Point of order, Sachin?

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