Can We Stop the Politicisation of Sonu Sood? After All, He Helped Out Migrants When No One Did

Coronavirus

Can We Stop the Politicisation of Sonu Sood? After All, He Helped Out Migrants When No One Did

Illustration: Reynold Mascarenhas

The coronavirus pandemic caused the government to declare a nationwide lockdown in the last week of March, which is only now being gradually lifted in phases across the country. However, during the course of the lockdown, the country witnessed a migrant crisis, as millions of labourers across the nation were left stranded away from their homes in other states with no means to return to their villages. Even as the Centre and state governments began organising trains and buses to transport migrants more than a month after the lockdown, some citizens took it upon themselves to lend a helping hand to those in need. One such citizen is the actor Sonu Sood, who emerged as a saviour to thousands of migrants as he arranged transportation for them to their hometowns via buses, trains, and even flights.

 

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Sood’s act of humanitarianism has rightly earned him praise across all quarters, but like so many good things that occur in modern Indian society, it was not long before this noble endeavour was tainted by politics. Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut, who also serves as the editor for the party mouthpiece Saamna, attacked Sood in his latest weekly column, claiming that the actor must have a political backer and motive for his act of helping migrants.

In his column, Raut brought up how Sood was one of the celebrities found to be willing to promote the Bharatiya Janata Party government on social media during a sting operation last year, and claimed that his act of sending the migrants home was intended to portray the Maharashtra state government in a poor light. This allegation was not well-received by the public at large, with many coming out in support of Sood, including readers of Saamna.

On Twitter, some doubters found the fact that many of the accounts that contacted Sood for help had been deleted as suspect. However, Sood addressed those worries himself when he called out those who were appealing to him with fake requests.

“Would request people to send requests only which are genuine,” Sood wrote on Twitter on Sunday.

Raut also claimed that Sood would soon have a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, ostensibly to formalise his association with the BJP. However, the same day Raut’s column was published, Sood visited Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and other high-ranking members of the state’s ruling coalition, affirming his commitment to the cause of transporting migrants and providing them support.

At a time when many migrants are struggling to make ends meet during a difficult period, adding political colour to a humanitarian cause like Sood’s is narrow-minded. But the actor now has a new set of fans, who are ready to back him for his efforts no matter what.

Thankfully, Sood has already declared that he will not let such incidents get in the way of his mission.

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