Ace badminton player PV Sindhu made the nation proud by winning silver at the Rio Olympics on Friday night, but back home in the Telugu land, people have put her to shame by fighting over her region and caste.
Soon after she won the silver medal, an ugly tug-of-war started in the political, media and social media circles on whether the shuttler is from Andhra Pradesh or Telangana.
First off the block were the chief ministers of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, K Chandrasekhar Rao and N Chandrababu Naidu, who announced cash incentives for Sindhu, besides allotting land and offering her government jobs, ignoring the fact that she is already a central government employee working for Bharat Petroleum. Then the vernacular media sought to trace her roots in a blatant show of regionalism.
Popular Telugu daily Eenadu, in its Hyderabad edition, published photographs of Sindhu participating in the recently held Bonaalu, a typical Telangana festival, to prove her Telangana identity. On the other hand, another popular daily Andhra Jyothy carried a photograph of Sindhu’s father PV Ramana performing special prayers for his daughter at the temple of their family deity at Ratnalamma Kunta village in West Godavari district in Andhra Pradesh, indicating that it was his native place.
Namaste Telangana, the KCR-promoted mouthpiece of the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), published an interview with Ramana in which he said he belonged to Nirmal in Adilabad district, while his wife Vijaya said she was from Chennai and Sindhu was born and brought up in Hyderabad. It also carried the file photo of Sindhu participating in Bathukamma, another popular Telangana festival.
Joining this media frenzy over Sindhu’s regional affiliations are the social media warriors. Some describe Sindhu as Telangana “bidda” (daughter), others say her father is an Andhra settler in Telangana and mother is originally from Vijayawada. As such, Sindhu is an Andhra “ammayi” (girl).
Google trends showed that some even searched for Sindhu’s caste-affiliation. On Friday, within minutes of her silver-medal win, a 2013 file photos was shared on social media, showing Sindhu being awarded the title of “Kapu Ratna” (jewel of Kapu community) by the AP Kapu Sangham in Hyderabad. There was another post saying her mother was a Kamma, another powerful upper-caste community.
Even the Dalit Christian Federation joined the fray. “She could achieve the glory only because she studied in Christian institutions,” said Federation convenor Jerusalem Mathaiah.