Hardik Pandya received massive backlash for his comments on the talk show Koffee With Karan, hosted by Bollywood director Karan Johar. Pandya’s comments were accused of being ‘misogynistic’, ‘racist’ and he was criticised heavily on social media. The player issued an apology but the BCCI ordered him and KL Rahul, the other cricketer on the show back from the tour of Australia and suspended them from playing all forms of cricket. However, it seems that all the criticism has taken a toll on Hardik Pandya and the cricketer, who is back home in Gujarat, is apparently choosing to spend time alone. The period of Makar Sankranti is considered auspicious in Gujarat where people fly kites to celebrate the festival. However, in the Pandya household, it is far from festive.
Speaking about his son’s state of mind, Hardik’s father Himanshu said in an interview to Mid Day that his son was disappointed by the comments and is determined to not repeat the mistake. “Ever since he has returned from Australia, he has not stepped out of the house. He is also not taking any calls... he is just taking rest. It's a festival... a public holiday in Gujarat, but Hardik did not fly any kites. He loves flying kites but his busy cricketing schedule never allowed him to be at home during this festival over the last few years. This time, he had a chance to fly kites, but because of the adverse situation, there was no mood to celebrate the festival. We have decided not to talk to him on this subject. Even his elder brother Krunal has not discussed anything about the episode with him,” Himanshu said.
Pandya’s comments on the talk show drew the ire from social media users, terming it ‘misogynistic’ and ‘racist’. Along with an uncertain playing future, Pandya’s brand has taken a massive hit due to the controversy with several brands, including Gillette, dropping him as the celebrity ambassador.
Following the outrage, Hotstar have removed the episode from the web while Pandya's father Himanshu has said that the comments should not be taken seriously as his son was indulging in chatter in a light-hearted manner. The situation came into light with this one conversation when Johar was asking questions about not asking women’s name in a night club and what do men talk about. To this, Pandya replied, “I like to watch and observe how they (women) move. I'm little from the black side so I need to see how they move." Pandya also boasted about how he casually discussed his sex life with his parents. “When I lost my virginity, I came home and said, 'Main karke aya hai aaj (I had sex today)'. At a party my parents asked me 'acha tera wala (women) kaun sa hai [who is your interest here?] so I said yeh, yeh, yeh (pointing out women)' and they were like 'waah proud of you beta',” Pandya replied with laughter.
Internal communication with the BCCI
Following Pandya’s public apology on his Twitter handle and to the BCCI, the Indian Express accessed the internal email communication between the player and the BCCI officials. The mail trail clearly stated that Vinod Rai, the head of the Committee of Administrators, was not happy with the tone of the apology and stated it did not appear sincere. Rai suggested that Diana Edulji should suggest some penalty.
Edulji sought legal help and the legal team of the Indian Cricket Board advised that under Rule 41 of the BCCI Constitution that the players should be tried for the showcause notice issued to the players. The former India women’s captain has said the enquiry should not be conducted in a hurried manner. She also pointed out there were two precedents in which a player was sent back for insubordination. One was Lala Amarnath during the 1936 series against England and Nikola Kalinic during the 2018 World Cup in Russia. With the Supreme Court scheduled to hear a plea filed by the Cricket Association of Bihar on the functioning of the CoA on January 17, Edulji said an ombudsman would be constituted to look into the matter.