The controversy over the Indian Premier League (IPL) is likely to have a negative impact on the already strained relations between the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the ruling alliance in the state.
The NCP leaders in the state are convinced that a section of the Congress leaders wanted to stall IPL matches to corner their boss, Sharad Pawar, who controls the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
They allege Chief Minister Ashok Chavan made it a point to convey the state government’s refusal to the IPL just a day before the BCCI meeting in the city.
“Chavan overruled state Home Minister Jayant Patil who had earlier taken a public stand that the IPL would be held in Maharashtra,” said a top NCP functionary, requesting anonymity for lack of authorisation to talk to the press.
Chavan’s action left the NCP red-faced, as Patil, who is from Pawar’s party, was all along maintaining that the state government would offer protection to the IPL.
As the BCCI was sure of this, the inaugural venue was shifted to the city from Jaipur.
Even after Director General of Police Suprakash Chakravarty, who is handling the police department for the elections, sent a negative report raising doubts over providing security to the tournament, Patil insisted that he had already given a go-ahead to the IPL schedule.
“I overruled the Home Minister because I did not want to take any chances with the security,” said Chief Minister Ashok Chavan. “We offered to provide security to the IPL matches after the elections.”
He ruled out any possibility of bitterness among the alliance partners.
“This is not a political issue. It was about security,” said Chavan.
State NCP president R.R. Patil refused to comment, while Jayant Patil was not available for comment.
The controversy has come at a time when the two parties are bitter over seat-sharing for the upcoming parliamentary elections.
It has been a week since the two parties agreed on a 26-22 seat-sharing formula, but the Congress leaders have not yet formalised it.