The Centre on Monday ruled out any possibility of helping the Indian Premier League with central security forces, prompting the IPL organisers to widen the search for new venues to save the tournament.
At a 90-minute meeting with BCCI secretary N. Srinivasan, special secretary (internal security) at the home ministry Raman Srivastava made it clear that neither the IPL nor the states should expect the ministry to divert paramilitary forces from election duty to the event.
Srivastava also told the IPL to chalk out a new schedule after consulting the respective states and getting their assurances for security. An official said the organisers promised to come back to the ministry with their final schedule in a day or so.
The ministry’s firm refusal has forced the IPL to look at newer venues.
In this, political heavyweights associated with cricket — such as NCP chief Sharad Pawar and BJP secretary Arun Jaitley — have also chipped in, trying to persuade states. “What we can do is look at states where the govts will be able to provide security.”
Pawar, a former BCCI president, has used his clout to get Maharashtra on board. Jaitley, also a BCCI vice-president, has been in touch with states such as Gujarat, HP and Karnataka. Chhattisgarh is on standby in case the BCCI falls short of venues.
Mumbai had initially refused to stage the opening ceremony on April 10 unless it receives central forces. State home minister Jayant Patil told HT it could do without them. “We can provide security for the IPL match. There is no problem,” Patil said. He denied the state had asked for additional forces.