The standoff over security may have forced the Indian Premier League to hunt for a new home overseas, but cricket lovers won’t let go so easily. Groups have sprouted almost overnight on Facebook with the mission of keeping the league in the country and a ‘patriotic’ campaign has started via SMS. For this, Rahman’s Oscar-winning song has come in handy.
“We love IPL and it belongs to INDIA. Why should we let it move frm our country. If you agree, forward it to every INDIAN who loves cricket in India. Jai ho,” reads the SMS that came to HT City.
Within online groups like ‘We want IPL in India’, ‘IPL in India — We want IPL in India … not in any other country’ and ‘IPL should be held in India and not abroad’, people blame the state for not trying hard enough. “They could have done something State govern and central govern are to be blamed! Oh god.. we are reallie (sic) gonna miss it.. last year it was wow.. too good :(!,” reads a post by Gokul Rajasekar. “If it’s gonna be held in England then it might as well be not held at all!!!!,” writes Siddarth Sundar.
Obviously, though Kolkata team owner Shah Rukh Khan calls it a “TV game”, fans believe the soil it is played on is just as important.
In the street, cricket fans are angry rather than disheartened. “It couldn’t be worse than this — first out of Delhi, now out of the country,” says Amit Saxena, a final-year student. “Don’t other countries have tournaments? Don’t they have security threats?” asks Shrishti Patel, a Class XI student. Her father Deepak Patel adds, “Now we have proven to the world that there’s no difference between India and Pakistan… it’s unsafe here, too.”
While some supported the decision to put elections ahead of cricket, MA student Uttaran Dasgupta is scathing. “The election is a circus that will produce another unstable coalition government blackmailed by parties,” he says. Trying to find the silver lining, city resident Sushobhan Chowdhury feels taking cricket’s grand show abroad will “give brand India a boost”. In fact, NRIs in England — one of the two venues shortlisted — are smacking their lips. “It would’ve been nice if it was [held] in India,” says London-based Dibyojyoti Bakshi. “But I’m excited at the idea of having it here.”
Moving the IPL out of the country is not a decision that makes anyone happy at all, but it does make me feel relieved. The democratic election process is the single-most important happening in our country, and I personally respect the fact that whoever amongst us as, good citizens, can do whatever it takes to facilitate the same, [we] should do it.
“Like our political heads, I, too, have great faith and belief that all care should be taken to ease the difficult electoral process in our diverse nation. I think it is absolutely prudent not to have the IPL during elections. It just shows how concerned the governments are of the well-being of the citizens.
“Being a father, I understand this because I would take similar decisions with a heavy heart concerning my family. Also, this discussion on whether it is a political thing is so absolutely nonsensical — why can’t we see the obvious and respect it? The IPL can clearly offer opportunities to disrupt the peaceful process of the elections. I will miss dancing in Eden Gardens, but [I] will be back next year, so that is a good thing.
“I personally feel safer in India than in any other place in the world, and [I] am sure so does every Indian.”
"I will miss dancing in Eden Gardens, but [I] will be back next year, so that is a good thing," adds Shah Rukh Khan.
Preity Zinta speaks: Polls are the priority. We want to this tournament to happen, too, so this is a good decision.
Shilpa Shetty speaks: If one has to choose between no IPL and IPL out of India, then the choice would be the latter.
As told to Princy Jain