The otherwise sleepy hill town of Dharamsala on Thursday witnessed a high voltage political drama when Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) chief Anurag Thakur reached the office of the state vigilance and anti-corruption bureau to join the investigations even as the authorities concerned have called him on October 31.
It was cricket versus state government as Thakur on his birthday openly challenged chief minister Virbhadra Singh to do whatever he can to stop the cricket body from holding matches in the International Cricket Stadium at Dharamsala.
The town was buzzing with activities since morning as BJP workers gathered at the main square while adequate security arrangements were put in place at the vigilance office.
Thakur arrived at Dharamsala in the afternoon along with the state Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) leadership, HPCA officials, MLAs Vikram Thakur, Virender Kanwar and Vijay Agnithori and former MLA Praveen Sharma.
The supporters accorded a warm welcome to Thakur and weighed him against ladoos. Big hoardings were placed on the way to Dharamsala congratulating Thakur on his birthday.
Addressing supporters from Kangra and adjoining Hamirpur and Una districts, Thakur directly hit out at the chief minister, accusing him of playing vendetta politics.
"The current government is trying to take over the cricket association. It's my open challenge to the chief minister to do whatever he can. We won't let him fulfil this dream of his," said Thakur. He said the Congress government had tried to do so during its previous regime in 2003, but had failed and the same would happen this time.
"Last time they had brought a sports bill to take over the HPCA and now they are trying it through vigilance inquiries," Thakur said, alleging that he was deliberately summoned to appear before the vigilance bureau on October 24, the day his birthday falls.
Thakur said it was all due to HPCA's effort that a world-class cricket arena had come up in the small hill town, while many other cricket stadiums were built in other districts, besides opening cricket academies.
Taking on Virbhadra Singh, Thakur says he has replied to everything whatever has been asked from him, while the chief minister is silent over the question raised on `4 crore loan taken by him and his wife Pratibha Singh from an individual.
Commenting on the Virbhadra's statement that he will not talk to any Tom, Dick and Harry, Thakur said the chief minister should not have made such a statement as he was an MP.
"Virbhadra Singh should explain his relation with Vakamulla Chandershekhar from whom the loan was taken and what favour was granted to the said person in lieu of the loan," said Thakur.
Thakur also said no action of government could stop him from promoting cricket.
Later, Thakur reached the vigilance office. His supporters who accompanied him also continued to stage a protest outside the investigating agency's office. Thakur was first sent to the investigating officer's (IO) room. As the IO was not present, Thakur met SP, vigilance, Bimal Gupta with a request to proceed with the inquiry.
However, Gupta refused, informing Thakur that he was summoned to appear on October 31 and should have come on the fixed date. When Thakur expressed inability to appear on October 31, Gupta asked him to given in written for further change in the date.