In 2018, Hardik Pandya had caused outrage when he had said that he liked to women move in night clubs and that he was a little ‘from the black side’. At that time, liberals had panned him for being ‘misogynist and racist’. It was in the heyday of India’s #MeToo movement.
Pandya and Rahul were hauled back from their tour and the former lost his Gillette sponsorship, his honorary Khar Gymkhana membership and some even asked for his IPL contract to be torn up.
Pandya was panned for not being up-to-date on the latest social studies on intersectionality. Interestingly, it was only Indians who accused him of racism and one never came across a black person who accused Pandya of ‘cultural appropriation’.
Now Pandya is having his Tanishq moment – by being attacked by both sides of the spectrum at the same time. While RW Twitter slammed him for appropriating a foreign message without knowing its context, LW Twitter slammed him for saying ‘Black Lives Matter’ instead of ‘Dalit Lives Matter’ or speaking up for ostensibly harassed minorities closer home.
Pandya appeared to be gesturing to his teammate Kieron Pollard while taking the knee.
While some pointed out the low-cost benefit of saying Black Lives Matter, others wondered why Pandya didn’t say ‘Dalit Lives Matter’ or ‘Muslim Lives Matter’
Many also pointed out that MS Dhoni had to take off his Army Insignia gloves, which was deemed to have a political message by ICC.
Pandya of course has the agency to support whatever political message he wants but it will be interesting to see if his gesture elicits censuring by BCCI or the IPL. Of course, the gesture is a reminder that you can’t please everyone when it comes to political messages. Or in Pandya’s case – as is the wont – you end up displeasing everyone at the same time.