I don’t know much about cricket. I do know lot about politics, having covered it for over 25 years. That’s why I can conclusively say that Virat Kohli, erstwhile Captain of the India cricket rest team, was pushed to quit.
Like much else dividing us and causing fault lines, India today is even divided over the Indian cricket team that was universally beloved and the pride of every Indian. It used to be a truism that cricket and Bollywood united every Indian and both were a national obsession.
Sadly even that no longer holds. See the attacks on Aryan Khan, son of Shah Rukh Khan who was apparently framed and embroiled in a fake case of drug possession by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) last year. Khan spent time in jail for an alleged crime he did not commit.
Witness the attacks on the other superstar Salman Khan when his films release. There is a systematic plan to hammer down on his films and ensure they are not commercially success.
Aamir Khan was recently attacked using a fake picture making claims that he had married for the third time.
Kohli was a proud leader of the 'Men in Blue' yet when he made his retirement announcement, the jubilation of a certain section of Indian social media was revelatory.
They celebrated his stepping down. Trashed his career and sneered over the support he extended to Mohammed Shami when the star Indian bowler was attacked for his religious belief.
Kohli hit back at “spineless trolls” and said that “attacking someone for his faith was the most pathetic thing to do. That’s a very sacred and personal thing and should be left there," tweeted Kohli.
Even Kohli’s tweet on the Hathras gang rape victim was used to target him. Kohli asking for a safe Diwali also came under attack. Considering the Supreme Court of India has imposed a ban on crackers, you gotta wonder who benefits from Kohli being made a whipping boy.
The worst: A troll gave a threats to Kohli’s toddler daughter on social media. Who has emboldened these perverts to attack a popular captain of Team India and not fear the criminal repercussions?
When Kohli’s actor wife Anushka penned him a public love note, post his retirement announcements, Indian social media was lit with abuse for the couple.
This truly was incredible India. Why should it bother anyone when a wife expresses public love and respect for her husband and partner?
Republic of Hurt
Why have we become the Republic of Hurt sentiments when anything a celebrity does or supports has to run a public gauntlet?
Kohli seems to have evolved from the aggressive hyper angry cricketer, who seemed to have a chip on his shoulder to a fine leader of men who supports feminism and stands up for the right things.
Sadly the trolls who used to idolise him haven’t become the mature and can’t stand him for taking a stand against hate speak.
But, with Kohli’s exit, a timeline can be drawn. Did his public stand cost him the captaincy?
We might never know but I truly yearn for a kinder, gentler India where we loved our cricketers and actors and did not view them through the prism of politics.