On “Panauti” Jibe At PM Modi, Gautam Gambhir Draws 2011 Manmohan Singh Reference

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Heartbroken following the loss against Australia in the Cricket World Cup 2023, the Indian team witnessed none other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi paying them a visit in the dressing room. With his visit PM Modi tried to lift the morale of the players, including veterans like Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma. While many encouraged PM Modi’s decision to attend the final interaction with Indian players following the bitter result in the summit clash, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s ‘panauti‘ jibe in an election rally triggered a huge controversy.

The controversy became a huge talking point on social media. Former India cricketer-turned-politician, Gautam Gambhir, however, feels the comment was unwarranted. Gambhir even cited the example of the 2011 World Cup semi-final, where Dr. Manmohan Singh, the then Prime Minister of the country, was in attendance to watch India take on Pakistan in Mohali.

“The word that was used, ‘panauti‘, it is probably the worst word that could’ve been used against anyone, particularly a prime minister of this country. In the 2011 Cricket World Cup semi-final, Dr. Manmohan Singh was there. Had we lost that match and he had come to meet us, what would’ve been wrong in that?,” said Gambhir in an interview with ANI.

Rahul Gandhi, during an election rally in Rajasthan, had said: “He comes on TV and says ‘Hindu-Muslim’ and sometimes goes to a cricket match… Our boys would have won the World Cup but the panauti (bad omen) lost us the match,” he had said in Hindi.

Rahul Gandhi received plenty of backlash over his remarks. Senior BJP leader and former Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the former Congress president’s remarks about the Prime Minister were “shameful, condemnable and disgraceful”. Union Minister Rajeev Chandrashekar also hit out at Mr Gandhi and said the comments were signs of desperation and mental instability.

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