On Saturday (August 8), a Facebook page by the name of ‘With RG’ sparked a controversy after it alleged that the Men’s hockey team captain Manpreet Singh held the Modi government to ransom over the newly enacted farm laws.
In its Facebook post, the page claimed, “Manpreet Singh Captain Hockey Team refused to accept Award money from Modi government until 3-black Agriculture laws are cancelled.” Within a span of a day, the post went viral on social media. At the time of writing, it had received 10,000 likes, 895 comments, and 1600 shares.
As per the ‘About’ Section of the page, it is run by fans of Congress scion Rahul Gandhi (abbreviated as RG). It clarified that it is not the official page of the Congress leader. “He believes in the growth of individuals with a strong focus on common people with the nation,” the page owners eulogised Rahul Gandhi. The Facebook fan page also boasts 7.72 lac followers. However, just like the Congress scion, the owners of the ‘With RG’ page are habitual purveyors of fake news. And the claim about Manpreet Singh happens to be one of them.
What is the Truth?
There are no media reports, which suggest that Manpreet Singh had denied any award from Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the hockey team’s performance in Olympics. Given that field hockey is a team sport, Singh could not have made the decision on his own without the approval of his team members. Further online research into the matter revealed that the Central government has not announced any awards for the India Men’s hockey team so far. It is only the State governments that have so far announced cash prizes and other incentives.
For instance, the Madhya Pradesh government had announced ₹1 crore for 2 players namely Nilakanta Sharma and Vivek Saga. Similarly, the Punjab government announced a reward of ₹1 crore for 8 players who were part of the Indian Men’s hockey team, including Manpreet Singh. Haryana government had also sanctioned ₹2.5 crore, government job, plot of land for two hockey players from the State. Even the Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI) had announced a reward of ₹1.25 crores for the hockey team. However, the Central government has not made any such announcements till now.
While the political affiliation of Manpreet Singh or his stance on the farm laws is unknown, a glance at his Twitter profile shows no ill-will for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. On being congratulated by PM Modi for his leadership, Singh tweeted, “Thank you so much sir for your encouragement, never-ending support for me and the team – this is not the last, will work harder to bring more laurel for the nation! Jai Hind!”
He had also responded to a congratulatory message by the official handle of the Bharatiya Janata Party. After having secured the bronze medal for India, he responded, “Many thanks for the support.”
PM Modi had also dialled Manpreet Singh after India defeated Germany in the bronze medal match. “Many, many congratulations to you and the entire team, you have made history. The entire country is filled with joy. Your hard work has paid off. You have done a lot of hard work, please wish the entire side on my behalf. The entire country is happy, congratulations coach Reid, you have created history. My best wishes are with you,” the Indian Prime Minister had said.
#WATCH | PM Narendra Modi speaks to the India Hockey team Captain Manpreet Singh, coach Graham Reid and assistant coach Piyush Dubey after the team won #Bronze medal in men’s hockey match against Germany#TokyoOlympics pic.twitter.com/NguuwSISsV— ANI (@ANI) August 5, 2021
A humble Manpreet Singh responded with a ‘Namaskar.’ Given that the Congress regime has been vocal against the farm laws, it is understandable that its fan pages are peddling the same propaganda on its behalf. However, politicising India’s sporting achievement by creating a wedge between a sportsperson and the ruling dispensation is unacceptable. Although the fan page of Rahul Gandhi tried to propagate the fake news, aware netizens are unlikely to fall for it.