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Cricket makes way for flag-hoisting ceremony

cricket Updated: Dec 23, 2008 00:00 IST
Varun Gupta
Varun Gupta
Hindustan Times
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The change of government in Rajasthan could spell trouble for Lalit Modi’s Rajasthan Cricket Association.

Jaipur's Sawai Man Singh stadium, which belongs to the Rajasthan State Sports Council (RSSC), was handed to the Rajasthan Cricket Association for five years by the then Vasundhra Raje-led BJP government under a memorandum of understanding (MoU). Until then, it was being used as a venue for the flag-hoisting ceremonies on Independence Day and Republic Day.

But for the last two years, the ceremony had been shifted to stadiums in Jodhpur, Ajmer and Udaipur so that the cricketing activities in the state were not disturbed. Some alleged that the decision had Modi’s imprints on it, as the RCA president is understood to be close to Raje.

However, this ‘affront’ to Rajasthan’s tradition angered the state’s conservative voters and prompted the Congress, now in power, to make it a talking point during their campaign. Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot had been vociferous against the BJP during his election campaign and had promised to review all decisions of the government which were pointedly taken to favour a specific organization or individual. And Gehlot stayed true to his word as he immediately shot a letter to the RCA, informing them that this year's Republic Day ceremony will be held at the SMS stadium.

RCA sources suggest that some in the government are unhappy with what they think has been a “gross misuse of the MoU by RCA”, and from now on “there will be stricter enforcement of its terms.” The stadium was given to RCA for only cricketing activities only but some allege that there has been illegal construction in the North Block of the stadium, and that RCA and Modi have turned it into their personal fiefdom.

RCA vice-president Bimal Soni, however, was unperturbed by the development. “These are all spurious press reports and there is no truth in them,” he said.