Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) secretary and BJP member of Parliament (MP) Anurag Thakur has said that a cricket series with Pakistan was possible in Sri Lanka, a neutral venue.
Interacting with other panellists at the HT Youth Forum in Chandigarh on Monday night, Thakur said talks were on between BCCI president Shashank Manohar and Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Shaharyar Khan to look at the possibility of an India-Pak series in December in Sri Lanka as per the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between the two boards. Thakur said political clearance had been sought for the purpose.
He added, “But who will decide on holding the series? Will it be India’s media, residents, the government or cricket boards of both countries? Let’s have a discussion on this first.”
“Earlier, the prime ministers of both countries used to have discussions, but now that has stopped. Are we really ready for the matches?” he wondered.
Thakur added, “The Indian team can’t travel to Pakistan. Looking at the security concerns, no international team travels to Pakistan. I think there should be no problem in holding the series in Sri Lanka.”
Taking up the issue of intolerance in India, Thakur asked, “Are we intolerant? This question is for all Indians. This debate in the media in the past few days looks like a sponsored campaign.”
He further said: “Of the 6,000-odd award winners, about 30 to 40 raised their voice. You can raise your concerns or debate in a democratic country such as India. Show an example of any other country where you can pray and follow your religion so openly.”
The Hamirpur MP added, “India is the only country where freedom to pursue any religion is given and no religion is stopped from growing.” He also asked other panellists whether technology was taking away the roles of people who would have got job opportunities, particularly in the film industry.
‘What’s more dirty?’
Anurag Thakur said to fellow panellist and Bollywood actor Sonam : “I hope you would raise your voice against the Shiv Sena in Mumbai if they show intolerance towards Pakistan actors in India.” He also quipped: “You (Sonam) can join politics and see where there is more dirt: in politics or in Bollywood?”
Meanwhile, Thakur said he had cleared the Service Selection Board (SSB) exam and would join the Territorial Army next month. To this, Jimmy Shergill said he also wanted to do so. Thakur was quick to respond that he could make Jimmy join on honorary basis.