UP politics hits one-day final
Now match to be played on April 2 at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium
LATE ON Sunday night, another shameful chapter was added to Indian cricket’s burgeoning roster of shame. An unseemly fight for control of cricket in the state between the Uttar Pradesh government and the UP Cricket Association resulted in the Ranji Trophy one-day final between UP and Railways, slated to be held here on Tuesday, being shifted to Mumbai.
The UP government, which owns the KD Singh Babu Stadium here, cancelled the ground’s booking late Sunday evening through its Sports Directorate.
Highly placed sources said the action was a result of a battle for supremacy between two political heavyweights of two National parties, reportedly Amar Singh and Rajiv Shukla, for control of cricket, though no one was willing to come on record and confirm this.
For a while now, the UP government has been trying by any and every means to take control of cricket (extremely high profile) in the state, with little success.
This is the second time in the recent past that a big match has been shifted from UP. The second Test between India and Sri Lanka (in 2005) was shifted from Kanpur to Ahmedabad when the state government refused to allot the stadium to the UPCA.
Meanwhile, on Monday morning, the government reportedly suspended joint director, sports, Vijay Singh Chauhan and regional sports officer of Kanpur's Green Park Stadium Brijendra Kumar Kuril, for an alleged failure to discharge their duties. Sources said this translated as a failure to "stop use" of government stadiums by the UPCA.
UPCA secretary Shukla, who is also the BCCI's media incharge, termed the incident a 'big blot' on the country's cricket fraternity. "The UP Government has always tried to create hindrances in the smooth conduct of the game in the state," Shukla told HT on Monday. "Despite the drama, we won't allow the game to be harmed. I will talk to Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee to allow UPCA to conduct its activities on the ministry's grounds in the state," he added.
Both teams were supposed to have nets on Monday afternoon but after the drama, were instead readying to fly back to their respective destinations.
Meanwhile, a word on the draconian Sports Ordinance, issued by the UP government in 2004 to gain control over sports and sports bodies in the state.
Before it could be implemented, the UPCA got it stayed by a court and to bypass its provisions, converted itself into a private limited company along the lines of the Delhi and the CCI in Mumbai. Both the stay and the conversion of the UPCA were challenged in court.
The UPCA lost the legal battle in January this year. Now, the cricket body is reportedly planning to take up the issue in the Supreme Court.
The Ranji final is at the Wankhede on April 2.