Virat Kohli on farmers’ protest

Virat Kohli on farmers' protest

He was asked whether farmers were finding space in conversations in India’s dressing room

A day after India’s cricket establishment joined a Twitter conversation on the ongoing farmers’ protest in the country, captain Virat Kohli said the issue has been discussed within the India team. He said everyone had, in a team meeting, “expressed their views” on the issue, which has dominated national headlines for several weeks.

Kohli, speaking to the media before the first Test against England, did not disclose details of the conversation. “We briefly discussed it in the team meeting. Everyone expressed their opinion, that’s about it,” he said.

Kohli, and many of India’s leading cricket figures – including Sachin Tendulkar and team coach Ravi Shastri – tweeted on the issue on Wednesday, and his statements on Thursday were in response to a question on that. He was asked whether, given those tweets, farmers were finding space in conversations in the dressing room.

The tweets, which were all posted within a few hours of each other on Wednesday evening, had a common theme of calling for unity among Indians. Most of the tweets, and those at the same time by Bollywood actors and other celebrities, bore common hashtags: #IndiaTogether and #IndiaAgainstPropaganda.

They followed a tweet by the singer Rihanna, who had linked to a CNN report on the farmers’ protests and asked, “Why aren’t we talking about this?” It sparked off a widespread response in India, the theme of which was that outsiders had no place in the national political discourse.

There were two kinds of tweets; those by Tendulkar, Shikhar Dhawan, Gautam Gambhir – now a BJP member of Parliament – and Anil Kumble, among others, essentially called for “external forces” to keep out of an internal issue. Tweets by Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Shastri referenced farmers and their importance in Indian life.

Some cricketers took a sharply different line. Bengal and India batsman Manoj Tiwary’s tweet was one of the sharpest, with a visual of a hand pulling strings and the caption: “When I was a kid, I never saw a puppet show. It took me 35 years to see one”.

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