It is not politics in cricket but cricket in politics in the hill state. Indian Premier League matches hosted for the first time in Dharamsala is turning into political battle between Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) and Congress.
Congress party has barged allegations against - Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) headed by Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal’s MP, son Anurag Thakur, as denial of entry to hundreds of ticket holders has left the match organizers in a tight spot. There are allegations that match organizers had sold tickets more than capacity of HPCA’s scenic stadium, which resulted in heavy rush for the matches.
Day after Congress demanded white paper on three crore grant for sprucing up of town ahead of IPL matches, HPCA on Wednesday turned heat on PCC, President Kaul Singh Thakur threatening to launch a legal proceedings against him. HPCA asked Thakur to make public the names of cricket body members whom he accused of purchasing land.
Sanjay Sharma, HPCA spokesman, accussed the Congress of giving political colors to IPL matches which have gone down in the sports history of the state. “Instead of accolading the efforts of HPCA, Congress is trying to use matches as ploy to settle political scores”.
Threatening to pursue legal battle against the Congress leaders, HPCA alleged that Congress leaders were unable to absorb the growing popularity of HPCA’s President and Lok Sabha Member Anurag Thakur. “It has become an agenda of the Congress to condemn whatever happens in the cricket stadium” said Sharma, adding that in the recent past too Congress leaders had made concerted efforts to get hold of the Cricket body and Dharamsala’s stadium. “Congress has made habit of criticizing HPCA’s efforts, we cannot help it” said Sharma who remained non committal on queries pertaining to over sale of tickets.
“Will the Congress criticize the Delhi government for spending Rs 300 by Delhi government for making preparations for commonwealth games” said Sharma castigating the Congress for seeking queries on Rs 3 crore issued by the state government.
Meanwhile the Congress spokesman Kewal Singh Pathania said IPL matches raise many questions since many BJP leaders including the cabinet ministers were conspicuous by their absence from two matches hosted here. “ It appears that HPCA had adopted pick and choose policy while distributing invites to the political leaders for matches” said he.
Pathania alleged that HPCA had foot the bills for the most of the tourism hotels it had booked. Congress leaders also raised several questions on state governments allowing Lalit Modi to use state helicopter for his return to Delhi.” It is ridiculous that government was more concern about Lalit Modi, while Indian skipper Mohinder Singh Dhoni and other members of the team had to travel by road” said Pathania. He alleged HPCA had distributed complimentary passes to selected BJP office bearers and bureacrts.
Shanta too clarifies his absence in IPL
Rajya Sabha Member and BJP’s national Vice President on Wednesday issued a press statement to clarify that he could not attend the IPL matches due to his political engagements in Jammu and Kashmir.’ If I was unable to come for the matches my son Vikram Sharma was there.”