Cabinet minister Sikander Singh Maluka faced much embarrassment during matches of six Kabaddi World Cup as the event struggled for audiences in Mehraj, ancestral village of former chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh, on Tuesday.
Moreover, with handful of people, the match was delayed by at least 40 minutes. The match was scheduled to start at 12pm.
Maluka, who is also the president of Punjab Kabaddi Association, held matches in his constituency for the first time and decided to hold the same in Amarinder’s ancestral village, Mehraj, with a purpose to show off his strength before elections.
However, despite elaborated sitting arrangement, most of the chairs remained unoccupied. Even, the organisers had parked trucks around the stadium for people to sit over their roofs, but they remained unused. Later on, the organisers ferried people from Mehraj and its nearby village to see the matches.
To show some crowd for live coverage, the organisers let people inside in an enclosure next to the stadium.
Contrary to poor audience response, Maluka said the people were showing interest to state government’s efforts to hold such major tournaments in rural areas.
“The government has brought Kabaddi, a traditional sport, which lost sheen over the years, back into the villages. I thanked chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and Deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal for choosing Mehraj as the venue for the kabaddi matches,” Maluka said.
He said due to government’s efforts, Punjab’s traditional sport of Kabaddi has become International as several countries such as Kenya, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Iran and others are competing in this mega sporting tourney.
Deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, who was expected to visit the village, gave event a miss.
Among those present on the occasion were deputy commissioner, Ghanshyam Thori, and senior superintendent of police, Swapan Sharma.