The Green Park stadium in this Uttar Pradesh city is hosting India’s 500th Test match, a historic occasion for a cricket-crazy nation.
Outside the sprawling ground where India and New Zealand are locked in a battle of attrition, another battle is taking shape — a poster war between rival political parties seeking to reap rich dividends in next year’s assembly polls.
The ruling Samajwadi Party (SP), BJP and Congress, besides ticket-seekers, have put up more than 100 hoardings and banners across the industrial town. But most of these are near the stadium.
Several posters by the BJP are in praise of Anurag Thakur, the BCCI president, thanking him for hosting the landmark match in Kanpur.
Thakur, for the record, is also the chief of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, the BJP’s youth wing.
“This is election time and everybody is looking for even small opportunities to woo voters… and that’s why ticket-seekers are making use of the 500th Test celebration,” said Mohd Shahid, an SP worker.
UP Cricket Association secretary and IPL commissioner Rajiv Shukla too has found mention in many posters.
A poster by SP legislator Haji Irfan Solanki congratulates Shukla for the historical match. In another poster, he welcomes the fans and participating teams on behalf of CM and SP leader Akhilesh Yadav, who is expected to attend the final day’s play.
“Cricket is just a means to show his or her presence on the posters when the CM arrives as we have plans to bring more than 5,000 party workers to cheer Akhilesh Yadav,” Shahid added.
Besides putting up hoarding and banners in support of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi during his ‘road show’ in the city, some Congress workers have congratulated Shukla for raising the profile of the party during poll season.
“Parties have also printed hand bills and other materials for the fans to carry inside the stadium during the match. This is another way to garner mileage out of the,” BJP’s Sushil Tewari said.