In yet another incident of politics taking over cricket, a group of Congress leaders, allegedly disenchanted over denial of entry passes for the January 19 ODI, provoked the rival Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) camp by burning an effigy of Jharkhand State Cricket Association (JSCA) president Amitabh Choudhary at Albert Ekka Square in Ranchi on Tuesday evening.
Reason: JSCA has invited Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi for the January 18 inaugural ceremony of the newly built international stadium. The Congress leaders alleged that by inviting an accused in the Godhra massacre and in the process overlooking the real heroes of Jharkhand like Sibu Soren and Russi Modi, JSCA has insulted the state and its martyrs.
They threatened to show black flags to Modi on his arrival in Ranchi. State BJP shot back almost instantaneously by threatening to retaliate in a 'befitting manner' if the Congress leaders dared to embark upon any such misadventure. Senior BJP leader Saryu Roy said, "The ignorant Congress leaders should understand that Modi is not just a politician but hasbeen invited here as president of Gujarat Cricket Association (GCA)."
Roy asserted that the BJP would not sit back and instead thwart any attempt to disrupt Modi's Ranchi visit. "He is an iconic leader and his visit will only inspire people of the state to do dream and do big things in their lives," Rai added.
JSCA spokesperson and media manager for the ODI, Manoj Kumar Singh said that there is a big confusion about Modi attending the inaugural function of the stadium as chief guest.
"Our Governor Dr Syed Ahmad is the chief guest," he stressed, adding, "JSCA has invited cricket association presidents of all the states as special guests and guests of honour."
"While Modi has been invited as GCA president, invitations have been sent to Arun Jaitley, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Farooq Abdullah and several other politicians not for their political identifies but for their association with their respective state cricket associations," Singh said. Politics and sports are poles apart, they say.
Not in India, for the game is in the hands of some very affluent and influential politicians.