Someone should tell Vijay Mallya that he is currently not a social lion and his presence is a no-no at Indian functions and not a matter of ‘pride’.
While one concedes he did not gatecrash the charity dinner given by Virat Kohli’s foundation in London and was a guest of one of those people who had bought a table, plain common sense indicates you should avoid being a pest.
Having a past relationship with Virat and other cricketers as the former owner of the Royal Challengers franchise in the IPL and his present state of grace (or lack of it) with the Indian government, this awkwardness was pure grandstanding.
At the moment, Vijay is out on bail and, after his arrest for three hours, is still technically on the Interpol/Scotland Yard list and the subject of an extradition attempt by the Indian government.
By popping in to try and chat with the Indian cricketers as a ‘wanted’ person whose status is that of a fugitive hiding in a foreign country, one would have thought his usual bravado would be under wraps and he would keep a low profile. But no way, the man has to high profile himself and embarrass the team players who now have to spend the rest of a special evening ducking him and, in the avoidance, ruining their fun.
Not just that, but his presence compels the Indian team to leave early so that they don’t run into him at the function.
What would have been more clumsy than to force yourself onto your former team's captain and start a chatty little discourse with him knowing fully well that you are placing him in a corner and sitting on the cake at his party? Pure decency would have demanded you do not attend or see that your presence is causing a disturbance taken off.
In case paths had crossed (and it is easy in a room), pictures would have been taken, conjectures made, the media would have splashed the twosome all over the country and next thing you know, Virat Kohli would have been asked to explain and he needs this pressure like a hole in the head when he and his boys are defending their title as champions.
There is a protocol for departure when a controversial figure walks in. It can happen unwittingly and at that moment, the Ambassador and Consulate staff are informed by their staff and they leave.
Others who follow could be heads or reps of Indian nationalised banks, the chairman of the Tea Board, the local manager of Air India and government officials who may not be aware of a political faux pas waiting in the wings and could be snapped talking to a ‘wanted’ person.
A BCCI official is quoted as saying, "The Indian team wasn't comfortable and they maintained a dignified distance from Mallya. Mallya's presence is one of the reason that team left early. The players were very uncomfortable. It was an unavoidable situation as one couldn't have possibly asked him to leave.”
Why not? It was a function directly connected to Virat Kohli and security could have easily requested Mallya to recuse himself since his presence was a hindrance. After all, if a man is on the run from his country, why not run him off from a mere party? He should have known better than to attend.
Which raises an interesting point. The Indian team left but the BCCI officials stayed on and enjoy themselves while Mallya was on the premises. Should they not all have trotted off, which does not seem to be the case. The officials who stayed back need to explain why they thought that necessary after Kohli had left.
As is his character, Mallya intends to bleed the presence of the Indian cricketers in the UK to the maximum by fetching up at each match and garnering some publicity for himself. He knows the cameras will hunt him out and beam shots of his florid ‘happy’ self to India giving him priceless exposure for free.
One cannot stop him from buying a ticket and sitting in the stands so long as his presence is not a liability to the players.
Updated Date: Jun 07, 2017 10:27 AM