There will be no bar on dance in IPL matches played in Mumbai, as long as there’s no “vulgarity” that would embarrass families in the stadium.
On Friday, Navi Mumbai police softened their stand of not allowing cheerleaders at the games, saying the entertainers had valid performance licences. Any vulgarity, however, would invite strict action, Navi Mumbai police chief Ramrao Wagh said.
“The dances should be decent and the clothes sober. The licence law is clear about vulgarity in performances,” Wagh said. He could not define vulgarity, though: “It’s difficult to define; it’s a grey area... Even courts have not defined it clearly. The officer on the spot will decide.”
Wagh refused to say if any cheerleader had been ‘vulgar’ so far. He had not seen any match, he said. But, he insisted, “their performances in the city will be very different from what you have seen so far”.
Wagh found a supporter in distant Bengal. Sports minister Subhas Chakraborty expressed strong reservations against the “wild dancing”, adding, “It goes against the grain of our tradition and culture.” He promised to take up the matter with Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. His views were endorsed by West Bengal Water Resources Minister Nandagopal Bhattacharya, who demanded a ban on the cheerleaders.
Buddhadeb, however, was dismissive: “I don’t keep myself abreast of such news and I have no wish to do so either.”
The blogosphere, meanwhile, has erupted in outrage against the netas’ moral policing. “When will they tackle real issues and not look for cheap publicity?” read a post on pr3rna.wordpress.com.
“There are a million problems in Maharashtra for the deputy chief minister (RR Patil) to attend to, and the man chooses to get worked up over cheerleaders,” read a post on fropper.com. There were comments and discussion forums on santhi.wordpress.com, desimanifesto.com, uderdesi.com/blog and broadbandforum.in as well.
Sociologists said the issue had little to do with protecting the dignity of women. "Mumbai is going through a conservative phase. Policing cheerleaders is like wanting to oust North Indians or harassing couples in public places," said Shilpa Phadke, an associate of Pukar, an urban social think-tank.
"Responsible public servants should describe spitting paan or litter as obscene, not dances on a cricket field," said sociologist Nandini Sardesai of St Xavier's College.