Chouhan too dabbles in ‘cricket diplomacy’ in state

March 31st, 2011 - 6:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh Bhopal, March 31 (IANS) Half-day leave for all government employees, uninterrupted power supply in the state and a spanking new cricket stadium to commemorate India’s win over Pakistan in the semifinal of the World Cup — Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is on a ‘cricket diplomacy’ drive.

In a ‘gift’ to nearly 500,000 state government employees, Chouhan announced a half-day leave on Wednesday when the Indian cricket team took on Pakistan in Mohali.

In a state where power outages and shortages are a way of life, Chauhan bought 1,000 MW extra to ensure uninterrupted electricity supply for most of the day so that people can catch up on the high-voltage match billed as the “final before the final”.

In a live-wire match, India led by M.S. Dhoni defeated Pakistan by 29 runs to set up the final with Sri Lanka in Mumbai Saturday. In a swift diplomatic move, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh invited his Pakistani counterpart Yousaf Raza Gilani to watch the match with him.

Both leaders took the opportunity to hold informal discussions on a range of bilateral issues.

Chauhan himself caught up with the Mohali action at his official residence here with journalists for company.

When India won the match, Chouhan announced that the state capital will have a new international cricket stadium.

There are two international stadiums in Madhya Pradesh, in Gwalior and Indore where matches have been played in the past. But Bhopal does not have one.

“Actually, Chouhan wants to show that he is with the people of state…proving a point on being true nationalist…such steps have not been taken even by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi during the India-Pakistan game. But then he (Chauhan) tries to walk a different way from his counterpart,” said a senior government officer, requesting anonymity.

However, the announcement of the stadium in Bhopal was welcomed by players and cricket association officials of the state.

“It is a good gesture on the part of the chief minister. We welcome it,” Amay Khurasiya, who played 12 one-dayers for India, told IANS.

The chairman of Bhopal division cricket association, Dhruv Narayan Singh also expressed his happiness at the decision.

Team India’s selector Sanjay Jagdale, who hails from Madhya Pradesh, told IANS: “It is good that at least now Bhopal would get a cricket stadium.”

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