Thankfully, Sachin Tendulkar‘s below-par performance on the Australian tour has dimmed the spotlight somewhat on the Indian media batting for a Bharat Ratna for the cricketer in quest for his 100th hundred.
In Lounge, the Saturday section of the business daily Mint, columnist Aakar Patel argues why, among other reasons, Sachin shouldn’t get the nation’s highest civilian honour:
“On 15 April 1999, just before the World Cup, Sachin Tendulkar’s car hit a Maruti 800 in Bandra. Tendulkar got [Shiv Sena chief] Bal Thackeray to telephone Mid Day, the paper I joined the following year.
“He warned them against carrying the story. This was surprising because nobody had been seriously hurt in the accident.
“Thackeray told the paper running the story would damage “national interest”.
“What was this national interest? Mohammad Azharuddin was about to be sacked, Thackeray explained, and Tendulkar was likely to become captain again. Such stories could spoil his chances. Except The Indian Express, no newspaper ran the story. In July, Azhar was sacked and Tendulkar was named captain.”
Since that story, Tendulkar and Thackeray, Bandra-ites both, have had a small run-in over the batsman’s statement that “he was an Indian first and Marathi too, but Mumbai belongs to all“.
Read the full column: Why Sachin shouldn’t get the Bharat Ratna
Also read: ‘Indian journalism is regularly second-rate’