By now it's become common knowledge that the Shiv Sena isn't exactly jumping with joy at the prospect of cricketing maestro Sachin Tendulkar being part of the Upper House of Parliament, that too after being nominated by the Congress. The saffron party's lukewarm attitude to the new milestone may also have something to do with the fact that Tendulkar has decided to side with the Congress after ignoring repeated overtures made to him by the Sena. Tendulkar has repeatedly ignored requests from not one but three city mayors to spare some time and attend his own felicitation, planned on different occasions.
The latest snub came close on the heels of Tendulkar's 100th ton, when Mayor Sunil Prabhu sent him a letter, requesting that he give the civic body some time so they could felicitate him for his historic feat. This time too, Tendulkar chose to stay mum on the invite. Nursing a hurt ego, the disgruntled civic body has decided not to extend such invites to the maestro any more.
"The mayor is the first citizen of the city, and in the last few years, the BMC has sent at least four such invitations to Tendulkar, asking for a small amount of his time so that it can fete him. But he has never accepted. He has all the time to meet people and even go to Delhi to do so. He also attends private functions hosted by businessmen, but can't give a confirmation to the BMC," said a Sena leader, on condition of anonymity.
Earlier, after the World Cup victory in 2011, former mayor Shraddha Jadhav had extended a similar invite to Tendulkar, who reportedly failed to respond.
Mayor Prabhu said, "Being the first citizen of the city, I have sent an invite to Sachin. Now it's up to him to revert with a time that is suitable for him." Asked if he had considered sending the master blaster a reminder, he said, "We will wait for his reply, and when he does respond, we will arrange for the programme." Shubha Raul, former mayor, opined that the civic body had had enough of the waiting game. "We approached him thrice, but if he has other commitments and hasn't reverted, we should stop here. If the desire to felicitate him persists, the mayor could write a congratulatory message to him, telling him that he has made us proud," she said. She also suggested that the BMC, instead of waiting on Tendulkar, could felicitate doctors or other achievers who have made meaningful contributions to society and are more willing to give the civic body some time. 'What role can a cricketer play in RS?'
Last afternoon, Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray took a dig at Tendulkar's nomination. Addressing the media from his residence Matoshree, he said, "Sachin is very big today, and I am proud of it. There are many who have been in the Rajya Sabha - Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bachchan, Hema Malini - but they all keep quiet. I would never become a member of the Rajya Sabha, because one needs to ask what scope there is for a member. What role can a cricketer play in Rajya Sabha? People in the Rajya Sabha need to think on their own. This is the Congress' dirty picture, where Rajya Sabha seats are being forced on people."