Cricket in election times: Row after Rahul Gandhi calls Modi a ‘bad omen’ that cost India World Cup final
The Indian PM was present at the venue named after him where the final was played and handed over the trophy to the captain of winning team.
Indian prime minister Narendra Modi (L) waves his hand during the final between India and Australia in Ahmedabad on November 19, 2023 and Indian National Congress leader Rahul Gandhi (ANI Photos)
A BIG political controversy erupted in India on Tuesday (21) when Indian National Congress leader Rahul Gandhi allegedly called prime minister Narendra Modi a “panauti” (bad omen) and said it was his presence during the final of the ICC Men’s cricket World Cup 2023 in Ahmedabad in the western state of Gujarat on Sunday (19).
Addressing a rally in Jalore in the poll-bound north-western state of Rajasthan, the 53-year-old leader said taking an indirect dig at Modi, “Ache bhale hamare ladke waha pe World Cup jeet jaate, par panauti harwa diya (our boys were almost winning the World Cup, but the ‘bad omen’ made them lose).”
India were defeated by Australia by six wickets in the title clash, denying them a perfect finish to a brilliant campaign during the tournament when they won 10 consecutive matches. The final was played in a stadium named after prime minister Modi.
The word ‘Panauti’ was trending on social media after India lost the World Cup final in the presence of the PM who attended the match towards the later part and handed over the trophy to the winning captain, Pat Cummins. He also met the Indian players in their dressing room and consoled them.
India have not succeeded in winning any ICC trophy in the era of Modi. The last time they won the World Cup was in 2011 and the Champions Trophy in 2013 and on both occasions, the Congress was in power.
BJP reacts to Rahul’s remarks
Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) hit back at Gandhi over his remarks on Modi. Former federal minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the opposition leader chose wrong words.
Calling the Congress leader’s words “shameful, condemnable and disgraceful”, Prasad said they showed his true colours and warned that use of such words against Modi would only boomerang. He recalled how Sonia Gandhi, mother of Rahul and former Congress president, had described Modi as “maut of saudagar” (merchant of death) during an election in his home state of Gujarat and yet her party lost there and are yet to win again.
“I vehemently condemn Rahul Gandhi’s comment about the prime minister,” Prasad told reporters and sought an apology from Rahul Gandhi.
Indian finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman also condemned Gandhi’s comments. While addressing the media in Hyderabad where she came across Mohammed Siraj, one of the members of the World Cup squad who she praised over the show, she said, “It’s such a despicable comment. He (Rahul Gandhi) is continuing the Congress tradition of calling all abusive names for Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. Is that how sports is going to be encouraged? Is that the route through which Congress wants to encourage sports in the country?”
The Congress on Tuesday released its manifesto – ‘Jan Ghoshna Patra’ – for the Rajasthan assembly elections scheduled for November 25. The results will be declared on December 3 along with those in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telangana and Mizoram.
The five-state elections are being considered as ‘semi-final’ ahead of next year’s general elections — the final.