Badminton fans in India and abroad collectively went into shock as former world number one badminton player Saina Nehwal joined Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday. Her elder sister, Chandranshu Nehwal also joined the party alongside her sister.
Nehwal felt “greatly inspired by Narendra Sir” and it was one of the main reasons why she joined the right-wing party.
She said, “I have won medals for the country. I am very hard working and I love hardworking persons. I can see Prime Minister Narendra Modi does so much for the country, I want to do something for the country with him” in her induction ceremony/press conference.
She praised the government’s “Khelo India” campaign run by the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs and spoke highly of it.
Rajya Sabha member and BJP general secretary Arun Singh emphasized on how Nehwal made her country immensely proud by winning the Olympic and Commonwealth medals along with 24 international titles. He also called her “an inspirational figure”.
Saina’s mother supported her daughter. She said, “Saina was doing well in sports and she will do well in politics also. BJP is doing good for the country, Saina is very hardworking and will work hard in this field as well.”
Read More – Saina Nehwal Timeline: Her Journey From 1990 To 2015: Becoming World No.1 Badminton Player
What is most shocking about this incident is that Saina was never explicit about her political views. Last year, she was trolled on Twitter for putting identical tweets praising the deeds of NaMo.
She put up identical tweets praising the saffron-clad government’s efforts and initiatives to empower women through the hashtag #bharatkilaxmi.
This tendency of taking in famous names into the party is a long-standing tactic of BJP. This is done mainly to exploit the huge fan following of the stars.
Among last year’s inductees, there was cricketer Gautam Gambhir and wrestler Babita Phogat with the former being elected MP (Member of Parliament) from Delhi during the national election.
29-year-old Nehwal is one of India’s most prominent sportsperson, having won one bronze medal at the London Olympics and being a three-time Gold medalist at the Commonwealth Games.
Nehwal has been credited with popularising badminton among India’s youth in this millennium. Her rise to fame happened when she became the first Indian woman to get to the quarter-finals in the Beijing Olympics.
This year, the badminton player participated in the Thailand Masters but she was defeated in the first round of women’s singles.
In January this year, Nehwal found herself in the middle of a controversy after her longtime coach Pullela Gopichand revealed that he was upset when he learnt that Saina would be joining Prakash Padukone’s academy.
As of now, there’s no official news of what Saina’s role in BJP will be. But it is questionable whether a public figure should join a party only to manipulate his/her fans for a political party’s gain. The political parties also use the star only for his/her fame rather than the good will.
Politics should benefit the people of a society. But nowadays it is only a way to achieve personal goals and gains via a give-and-take policy.
Let’s hope an icon like Saina has not fallen for this trope.
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