'Mumbai belongs to India. I am a Maharashtrian and proud to be a Maharashtrian, but I am an Indian' – That was Sachin Tendulkar
That was the master blaster’s most courageous hit.
Sachin, despite being a person who religiously steers clear of controversies, did not shy away from airing his views in answer to a query from a scribe. It required as much courage to make this statement as to go out there in the middle without a helmet and a visor to face world’s fastest speedster all geared up to draw blood. So inflammable are the fumes released into the Mumbai troposphere by the Shiv Sainks and the MNS. The great sportsman skyrocketed in our esteem by daring, in his characteristic quiet and modest way, to make a statement of this nature in a city where the Shiv Sainiks and MNS workers have effectively terrorised into silence all those big names who'd led the Mumbai- for- all- Indians campaigns.
Sachin may not have expected this reaction from the Shiv Sena supremo. But then, who is Mr. Thackeray to deictate whether Sachin should play cricket or golf or kabadi or talk politics or enter politics? Why this sense of proprietorship over anything Marathi? No Maharashtrians should think anything different from or outside the Bal Thackeray's thinking box?
Thackeray appears to be still smarting from the party’s performance at the recent elections. Hell, I guess, has no fury like the Shiv Sena chief spurned by the electorate.
If Tendulkar will stand by what he said, or recant or hold out the olive branch to Thackeray waits to be seen.
But we most certainly hope that an icon like him would lend a hand to the noble cause of unity in diversity.