In the heat and dust of electioneering, politics met cricket when Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national president Amit Shah and its Jharkhand election-in-charge, Bhupendra Yadav, turned up to watch the India-Sri Lanka ODI at the International Cricket Stadium in Ranchi on Sunday.
Jharkhand State Cricket Association (JSCA) president Amitabh Choudhary, who had recently joined the BJP after dissociating with the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha-Prajatantrik (JVM-P), played host to the saffron party leaders.
BJP national president Amit Shah watces the 5th ODI match between India and Sri Lanka at the JSCA International Stadium in Ranchi on Sunday. (Parwaz Khan/HT Photo)
Shah had come to Ranchi Sunday morning along with Union home minister Rajnath Singh to campaign for the BJP and alliance partner AJSU Party.
The two addressed eight rallies at eight different constituencies that are going to polls in the first phase on November 25.
His visit clashing with the ODI, Shah, who is the president of Gujarat Cricket Association (GCA) and an avid cricket lover, came to the match venue in the evening to cheer for Team India that swept the series 5-0.
Shah arrived at a time when a player from his home state, Akshar Rajeshbhai Patel, and skipper Virat Kohli were sending Sri Lankan bowlers all around the park. Shah was seen cheering every shot.
This was the first time the president of a national political party attended a cricket match at the lush green stadium in Ranchi, home town of Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
"Shah's presence added the political colour (to the stadium)… that's okay in poll-bound Jharkhand," said Bobby Singh, a spectator, who was seated behind Shah at the stadium.
The JSCA president could not be reached for his comment.
Confusing Shah to be Prime Minister Narendra Modi, some enthusiastic spectators chanted 'Modi, Modi' slogan, before the TV cameras cleared the doubt.