Citing insult by HPCA, Virbhadra decides to skip Dharamsala match

  • Gaurav Bisht, Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Sep 30, 2015 23:23 IST

SHIMLA: Vexed at the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) for its insulting remarks against him, Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh on Wednesday announced that he would not attend the T20 match between South Africa and India at Dharamsala on October 2.

“I believe there is no point in going to a place where I am being insulted,” Virbhadra said on the sidelines of a function organised at a local hotel to honour panchayats for their cleanliness drives under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.

“I am a fighter and will continue fighting against injustice,” he added.

Following CBI raids on the CM on September 26, HPCA spokesperson Sanjay Sharma had said the HPCA would not demand him to step down, as resignation was demanded from those who had an iota of morality, while Virbhadra had lost all morality.

However, the spokesman had maintained that they would invite the CM to the cricket match, while stating, “We have a tradition to invite all dignitaries, including the CM and governor. The invitations aren’t sent to an individual but the post they hold.”

Significantly, the Virbhadra Singh-led government and HPCA, which have been at loggerheads for long, had shed hostilities for a while due to the upcoming match.

The HPCA, which is led by Hamirpur Lok Sabha member and leader of opposition Prem Kumar Dhumal’s son, Anurag Thakur, had recently issued a statement saying it had invited the chief minister for the Dharamsala clash.

On September 2, the HPCA had reciprocated warmly to the chief minister’s decision to attend the T20 match.

“The HPCA is absolutely thrilled at the fact that the Himachal Pradesh chief minister, Virbhadra Singh, will attend the historic cricket match at Dharamsala,” HPCA press secretary Mohit Sood had said in a statement.

“It is a tremendous step towards greater cooperation between the HPCA and the state government for the betterment of sports in the state. If both the state and the HPCA work in union, there is no doubt that sports in the state will reach a level that everybody will be envious of,” Sood had added.

Before conveying his consent to Thakur on Saturday, Virbhadra had also said the security fee for the international match, usually charged for providing security to players, would be waived.

Past controversies

The Congress government has remained at loggerheads with the HPCA ever since it took over the reins of the state in December 2012.

The stadium and its residential complex was taken over by the government, along with other HPCA properties, in a midnight swoop on October 26, 2013, over alleged irregularities in the association. The state vigilance and anti-corruption bureau in August had filed a cheating and misappropriation case against the HPCA over alleged wrongdoings in allotment of land to the sports body for constructing a residential complex for the players near the Dharamsala stadium.

The government had also cancelled the land lease given to the HPCA, then a society and now a company, and had taken possession of the international cricket stadium, its residential complex in Dharamsala and lands allotted to it at Bilaspur, Hamirpur, Kotkhai and Shimla. Later the Himachal Pradesh high court had ordered a status quo.

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