Chidambaram hits out at BCCI, Narendra Modi (Lead)

March 23rd, 2009 - 5:31 pm ICT by IANS  

Narendra Modi New Delhi, March 23 (IANS) Home Minister P. Chidambaram Monday described as “unwarranted” the Indian cricket board’s criticism of the central government for allegedly not ensuring security for Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket tournament that has now been moved out of the country.
Taking a tough stance against the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), Chidambaram refuted its president Shashank Manohar’s comments that the attitude of the central government, and of Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh, forced the organisers to shift the popular event out of India on security concerns.

“I have read a number of statements on the IPL’s decision which obliquely criticise the central government. These statements require an answer; some unwarranted comments also deserve a rejoinder,” the minister told a press conference.

“If he (Manohar) was referring to the central government, the remark is entirely unwarranted,” said Chidambaram, stating that only three states and one union territory had responded to New Delhi’s queries regarding requirements of security for the tournament, which coincides with general elections.

The minister said only Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Punjab and Chdandigarh had responded.

“If he was referring to the state governments alone, I would like to remind him that state governments are ultimately responsible for maintaining law and order and providing security, and one has to respect their judgement.”

The IPL organisers had rejigged their schedule thrice after some states expressed concern that they would not be able to provide security for the tournament in the middle of the Lok Sabha elections.

On Monday, the organisers announced the tournament was being shifted out of India - to either England or South Africa.

The ministry, said Chidambaram, had at the very outset declared that it would not be able to spare central paramilitary forces for the eight venues where the IPL matches were to be played. This was appreciated and accepted by BCCI secretary N. Srinivasan.

Over two million security personnel will be drafted for poll duty and will be constantly moved around during the five-phase elections.

Chidambaram reserved his best for Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi who had described the shifting of the IPL abroad as a “national shame”.

“What is a national shame? Most people in India think that the Gujarat communal riots of 2002 were a national shame. That the Supreme Court should have thought it fit to reject the investigations conducted by the Gujarat Police and to constitute a SIT to reinvestigate 14 cases is a matter which brought shame to the fair name of Gujarat,” Chidambaram said.

“When the SIT reports filed before the Supreme Court is unveiled, I have no doubt it will expose the inability of the Gujarat government in preventing the horrific incidents.”

The home minister took a swipe at Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) general secretary Arun Jaitley’s observations that the decision to have the IPL outside would send “a negative message to the world that the India was unable to hold a domestic sporting event.”

“I know Jaitley has a penchant for exaggeration but because he also wears the cap of the president of the Delhi District Cricket Association (DDCA), he seems to have gone overboard this time,” said Chidambaram.

“Perhaps he has forgotten that several leaders of the NDA (National Democratic Alliance) have also expressed the view that the schedule of the IPL should be postponed until after the elections. Even Karnataka, a state ruled by the BJP, has agreed to provide security on the dates suggested for the matches in Bangalore after April 30, when elections would be completed,” the minister added.

Responding to this, Jaitley said: “Countries don’t come to a standstill merely because (of) elections. Snide personal remarks are no substitute to security.”

Chidambaram said although cricket was a hugely popular game, it appeared that IPL was more than a game.

“It is a shrewd combination of sport and business. There is no reason to add politics to this combination.”

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