It was always waiting to happen. Despite the assurances from, first the Indian Premier League (IPL) commissioner, Lalit Modi, and later, Home Minister P. Chidambaram, the final call on the future of the IPL in the time of elections would have always been that of the states.
And on Friday, all but one of the eight states communicated their decisions to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). Tamil Nadu was the only state that gave the IPL's revised schedule the go-ahead. The only way, most of the others said, they could host matches was if the Centre provided them with paramilitary forces. A request the Centre, quite understandably, turned down and instead asked the IPL to get back to the drawing board and chalk out a new schedule.
And that was not where the IPL's troubles ended. Two states —Andhra Pradesh and Delhi — gave the Centre a categorical no, saying the only way they could secure the stadiums was if the matches were played after the elections.
So, where does this leave the IPL?
Modi and Co. now have to work out a new schedule that both the Centre and the states agree to - a task ministry sources say will not be easy. The IPL, however, are hopeful.
“We have chalked out a number of newer and more refined schedules and will be handing them over,” a high-placed IPL source said.
A truncated tournament could be a way out, but the IPL is determined to have the 59-game event within the original time frame.
“If we can’t work new dates out, there will be no IPL, but if the politicians don't want the IPL, tell us. Don't keep us hanging,” said IPL governing council member I.S. Bindra. “But don't label India 'safe for cricket', either.”
“If the IPL doesn't go ahead, the Western media will turn around and say India is just as unsafe for cricket like Pakistan, and that won't be good,” Bindra added. “We have a lot of things to arrange - from printing tickets to booking hotels - we can't just wait for the clearance four-five days before the tournament.”
Sources in the IPL said the home-and-away system of matches could be done away with. “Extraordinary times require extraordinary measures,” said an IPL governing council member. “We will have to look at all the options, including playing more matches in a day and using fewer venues.”