Badminton player Saina Nehwal caught the people of India off-guard today, by joining BJP. I, for one, wasn’t expecting this 29-year-year-old Olympic bronze medallist to enter the ugly world of politics. However, there are many who are criticising Saina, calling her a “sold out” for this move. So is Saina wrong in joining politics? Should people discredit a young woman’s entry into this field simply because it is with a party that they may not approve of? What is better for the country? Young people joining politics and cleaning the system that we all love to crib about from the inside, or to simply outrage about our politicians' inefficiency?
Let's Raise Some Important Questions:
- Should people be criticising Saina Nehwal for joining BJP?
- Should they discredit her potential as a politician simply because she chose to affiliate with a political party?
- Doesn't every party have its share of good and bad politicians who have moved away from the party ideology and done some good work?
- At the end of the day, what should matter to us? Saina's potential and work as a politician? Or her political affiliation?
Often one hears people crib that not enough educated youngsters are joining politics, and so it remains full of “goons and criminals” or heirs to political clans. According to one report by ADR from 2018, a total of 1,580 Members of Parliament (MPs) and Member of Legislative Assemblies (MLAs), which is about 33 percent of the legislators in India’s Parliament and state assemblies, have criminal cases pending against them.
No one knows what Saina’s motivations to join politics are. But she at least took the leap.
You have to be a strongman or so and so’s progeny to be able to leave a mark in Indian politics. How many first-generation politicians or those with no criminal background can one count today? Agreed that actors and sportspersons ride on the wave of their goodwill and popularity into politics. But this doesn’t essentially make them good or bad at the job at hand. After all did we troll Rajinikant on his entry into politics? Then why troll Saina? Entry into politics is a big decision and at some level, it does display a will and a belief. A will to have a career in perhaps the most cursed field in the country and, in rare cases sadly, a belief that they can make a difference in people’s life.
No one knows what Saina’s motivations to join politics are. But she at least took the leap. How many of us are willing to do the same? How many of us are willing to give up a cushy career, and a secure lifestyle to get into the dirty waters of politics where nothing is sacred in election season. We have seen how politics treats women. We have heard and witnessed seasoned politicians make comments on rival women candidate’s underwear in an election rally. We have seen women politicians receive rape and death threats on social media. To give you a context, a study has recently revealed that Indian women politicians receive up to 10,000 abusive tweets per day. It is not a cakewalk.
Which is why any woman who forays into politics needs to be applauded. Besides, we need to ask ourselves, why are we so miffed that Saina has joined BJP? Agreed that the current political climate in the country has drawn clear battle lines. You are either a nationalist or a liberal. You either support CAA-NRC or you are against it. You loath student protestors or you admire them. So when you pick up a party, you automatically get a tick against many of these either/ or boxes. Your one choice is all it takes to define your politics today.
Every political party in this country has its fair share of good, bad and disastrous politicians. Their performance has transcended their party’s agenda.
So is the outrage against Saina justified? Alas, this is not a simple yes and no question. Here’s a young person who wants to make a difference in politics. She dared to make a choice. The choice isn’t a final one, as we know. Saina will always have the agency to rethink her political affiliation. But before we pass judgement on her, let us give her a chance to prove what she’s got up her sleeve. There is a lot more to being a good politician than affiliating with a party. Every political party in this country has its fair share of good, bad and disastrous politicians. Their performance has transcended their party’s agenda. It is entirely up to Nehwal now, whether she uses this opportunity to make a difference, to usher in a monumental change, or to simply go with the flow.
Politics is a long journey and only time will tell us whether Nehwal has made the right decision by joining BJP and whether we should be happy or worried about her, and us.
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.