When there is a heady mix of cricket, glamour and money, can politics be far behind? With each passing day, the IPL script is getting twisted and turned to suit the needs of so many stakeholders that most of us tend to forget the main reason why this star-studded tournament became a bone of contention.
I fail to understand why anyone should have a problem with the concerns raised by Home Minister P Chidambaram with regards to holding the IPL along with the general elections? A perfectly legitimate concern regarding the security of players and spectators --- especially after the Lahore attack --- has now turned into a battlefield between sponsors, political parties and has even pit the State against Lalit Modi, who is seen as a symbol of an aspirational 'New India'.
One can understand that everyone wants a bite of the large, juicy pie that IPL is assumed to be, but should it be at the risk of diluting security arrangements for the elections? Anyone who has a voice seems more concerned about IPL and, in this din, the Indian public's democratic right to vote in a free, fearless atmosphere does not seem to bother most of us.
It all began with Lalit Modi almost mocking at Chidambaram by announcing to the world that the tournament is on and the IPL has enough money to take care of its own security. Then, we were told how IPL is linked with national pride and not holding it would mean conveying to the world that India is a weak State. And now, the whole debate is threatening to become a BJP versus Congress battle, with most of the venues where the states have no problem with the security ruled by the opposition party.
It is obvious that the BJP would want to make it an election issue if the government does not give its nod in favour of the IPL.
There is probably a vast middle-class urban constituency out there to be tapped, something I became aware of when one of my friends castigated me for being anti-IPL. "Why should we care for elections? Do you want to be ruled by a Mayawati? Please give us our evening entertainment, we're fed up of this kind of politics," was his refrain.
Through the clever manipulation of the media, the stakes have been raised to such an extent that the government must be in a fix.
If it says the tournament should not be held, it will be seen as inefficient and inept. And if there is even a minor breach of security during the tournament, it can damage their electoral prospects.
The IPL may well have become an albatross around the government's neck, but to treat security concerns as trifles is in nobody's interest --- neither the nation's nor cricket's.