“It is imperative that players be put under suspension till further course of action is decided for this misconduct as was done in case of (BCCI) CEO (Rahul Johri) when he was sent on leave on sexual harassment matter," reads CoA member Diana Edulji’s email recommending strict action against Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul following their controversial appearance of Koffee With Karan on Sunday, 6 January.
While the harshness of the reprimand could be debated, another big matter that needs to be addressed here is the mention of KL Rahul in the same sentence as Hardik Pandya and BCCI CEO Rahul Johri.
Hardik Pandya, whose misogynistic and sexist comments on Koffee With Karan forced even broadcaster Hotstar to take the episode down, and BCCI CEO Rahul Johri, whose conduct was found to be ‘unprofessional and inappropriate’ by one out of the three-member panel set up by the board to investigate the ‘Me Too’ allegations against him.
Guilty By Association?
On Sunday’s episode of Koffee With Karan, KL Rahul was one of the two guests along with teammate Hardik Pandya.
While he shared the same couch with Pandya in the 49-minute episode, nowhere did he indicate that he shared his teammate’s views on women or that he had behaved in the way Pandya seemed to believe was worth boasting about on national television.
In fact, at the very start of the show, he told us how there’s a huge difference in their personalities:
"“He’s a diva. He wants the attention to be on him all the time. If we are talking about something in general, say politics, and he’s not interested. He will suddenly speak up and say – “look I bought this watch yesterday, or I got these new Gucci shoes.”"
The host of the show – between giggles and mental notes of teaser-worthy quotes by Pandya – at one point asked the players about their night-outs, enquiring “If you all hit on the same women, then how do you decide?”
KL Rahul's response was, "up to the woman." Pandya though said, “Nahi nahi aisa kuch nahi hai, talent pe hota hai. Jisko mila woh leke jao (Nothing like that, it's about talent, whoever gets them, takes them)."
Guilty... by association?
Not Completely Faultless
Between anecdotes about playing the agony aunt to Pandya’s love interests and disclosing his teammate’s run-ins with cheerleaders, KL Rahul did, however, give the viewers a peek into the toxic ‘bro-code’ between the two.
"‘When we go to parties and he (Pandya) doesn’t remember the name of the girl he’s been speaking to, he gets her to me and introduces us. I say, “Hi, I’m Rahul” and then she introduces herself and says her name. After that he tells me to get on my way.” "
One of KL Rahul’s biggest revelations on the show was surprisingly related to cricket. He talked about partying till late in the night on the eve of what eventually turned out to be his first international T20 century. ‘I didn’t think I was playing the match the next day and I was in Miami, so I said why not,’ said Rahul talking about the first T20I between India and West Indies at Florida in 2016 where he scored an unbeaten 110.
But is that enough to hand him the same punishment as Pandya? Because if Karan Johar has access to this piece of information, was the captain and the board not aware of a player’s activities during an international tour? So, why act now? And act if you may, but why not specify what the reprimand is for?
CoA Suspends Both Players
On the eve of the ODI series against Australia, the BCCI announced both Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul have been suspended, pending an enquiry, and been called back to India.
But should both players be handed the same reprimands? Should the board and the CoA not be able to differentiate between a man whose beliefs are so deeply rooted in misogyny and another, who at most, could be called an enabler.
That KL Rahul’s cricket career is under a dark cloud was known much before he appeared on the show and soon after he got out in the fourth Test in Sydney for 9. But if it should run into further trouble because of a 49-minute show, is a question that needs to be asked.
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