Home Minister blames IPL shift on organisers
Home minister P Chidambaram, who had earlier publicly stated the tournament be postponed because of the elections, said IPL officials were to blame for taking it out of the country.cricket Updated: Apr 10, 2009 16:21 IST
Indian Premier League could have taken place in India if organisers had listened to suggestions and not put pressure on the government, a senior minister said on Friday.
The glitzy Twenty20 event, which opens in South Africa on April 18, was shifted out of India after the government said it could not provide adequate security due to the overlapping general elections.
Home minister P Chidambaram, who had earlier publicly stated the tournament be postponed because of the elections, said IPL officials were to blame for taking it out of the country.
"We could have done it, but only if they (IPL officials) had reflected on the concerns of the police and not try to pressurise the (state) chief ministers," Chidambaram said during an interview on CNN-IBN news channel.
"I am not letting out any secret by that. If they had only listened to the concerns of the police, this tournament could have been played in two parts.
"First the league part and then give a break for the critical three or four week period and then the knock-out part.
"But they were trying to be too clever by putting the pressure on chief ministers and ultimately the police told the chief ministers that 'sorry, we cannot provide security'."
The IPL, featuring the world's top cricketers, was earlier scheduled to be held from April 10 to May 24, coinciding with the five-phase elections from April 16 to May 13 with counting of votes on May 16.
Indian cricket chief Shashank Manohar, while announcing the shift to South Africa on March 24, had said "the attitude of the government" had forced the change.
Chidambaram dismissed suggestions the change in the IPL venues was caused by an ego clash with tournament commissioner Lalit Modi.
"Where is the ego?" the minister asked. "I am too small a person compared to Mr Modi. The point is they did not try to understand the compulsions and concerns of the police force.
"Ultimately the political buck will stop at the chief minister but the burden will have to be taken by the police. They should have understood the concerns of the police."
Asked if he had any regrets of being forced to watch the IPL on television, Chidambaram said: "I will watch it on television and will be amongst the 98 per cent of the viewers who watch the IPL on television.
"Only two per cent of the viewers watch the IPL matches on the ground."
Safety has been a major worry after the attacks in the Indian city of Mumbai in November and an attack targeting the Sri Lankan cricket team in Pakistan in March that left eight people dead and injured seven squad members.