It was reminiscent of one of Sachin Tendulkar’s anticlimatic dismissals in the 90s — one that used to invariably leave fans across the country sullen. The way the Indian cricket legend’s first speech as a Rajya Sabha MP in the Upper House was put on hold left everybody dejected on Thursday.
But the time the Master spent at the ‘parliament crease’ had its fair share of charm, including a fan moment when MP Jaya Bachchan requested him to autograph a miniature bat!
The cacophony in the parliament, the presence of political heavyweights, and the protests by the Congress party against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘insinuations’ at his predecessor Manmohan Singh, couldn’t stop the batting legend from becoming the centre of attention on the day.
His speech was the most anticipated event in the Upper House and Tendulkar walked in with the same air of confidence with which he used to walk into the middle before knocking the ball all around the park.
Dressed in a dark Nehru jacket and black trousers, Tendulkar entered the Rajya Sabha minutes before the House assembled for the post-lunch session at 2 p.m. The master is used to attention from thousands in a stadium and so the eyeballs that were closely following him within the parliament premises hardly unsettled the scorer of 100 international centuries.
Human resource minister Prakash Javadekar walked up to the former cricketer to wish him luck for his maiden speech on the ‘right to play and the future of sports in India’.
The fan moment
Tendulkar, then, walked up to the minister of state for external affairs, General (retd) VK Singh, and shook hands with him, before interacting with other MPs including Raj Babbar, Rajeev Shukla, D Raja and Jaya Bachchan, who got Tendulkar to sign a miniature bat and a coffee mug for her secretary — that’s nothing new for Sachin.
As soon as the House assembled, Congress MPs began raising slogans, seeking a clarification from the PM on his remarks about Manmohan Singh. House Chairman Venkaiah Naidu tried to calm things down and asked the protesting members to take their seats and allow Tendulkar to make his maiden speech on an important issue.
“Do not denigrate the House….He is speaking for the first time. Let him speak, do not create disturbance,” Naidu said.
Sachin’s long stand
The members, however, refused to budge from their stance and continued to shout slogans even as Tendulkar remained on the dais to start the short discussion on ‘right to play’.
Tendulkar’s wife Anjali was watching the proceedings from the visitors’ gallery. Naidu appealed to the protesting MPS to show respect and allow the Bharat Ratna awardee to speak.
“This sloganeering will not lead to anything. Please sit, the entire nation is watching… All focus will be on Sachin, nothing else will go on record,” the Chairman said.
How right he was! The whole nation was expectantly watching the proceedings on Thursday.
The MPs were, however, in no mood to give up.
With things getting impossible to control, Naidu adjourned the House for the day, saying he did not want such scenes to be broadcast live to the whole country.
Tendulkar, graceful like in his playing days, walked back!