BJP surprised, others happy IPL not clashing with polls

March 22nd, 2009 - 7:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party New Delhi, March 22 (IANS) The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Sunday expressed surprise over the Indian Premier League (IPL) being shifted outside the country, and said this will give a wrong signal about the country’s security establishment.
India’s cricket board Sunday announced that the hugely popular Twenty20 IPL will be played outside the country because state governments have expressed their inability to provide security to the tournament as it clashes with general elections.

“This will send a wrong signal to the outside world that India cannot handle the security of cricket matches, which are such a huge public draw,” BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar told IANS.

“The government, given the wherewithal at its disposal, should be able to do multi-tasking,” he said about the high security needed both for the elections and the IPL matches.

Congress spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan said: “It is a private tournament organised by private organisers, it is their decision (to take out the tournament).”

“How can I comment on whether their decision is correct or not?” Natarajan said to IANS.

An official close to the developments felt that the government did not wish the IPL to take place simultaneously with the elections. “The IPL suggested three different schedules over the last two weeks to the states, but it did not move them at all,” he said, requesting anonymity.

Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Lalu Prasad denied the Congress had deliberately scuttled the IPL.

On the IPL matches being organised outside India, Lalu Prasad said: “Our country has advanced, our cricket has also advanced. If our players play and excel on pitches of different countries, then it will be an achievement.”

Convener of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and Janata Dal-United president Sharad Yadav said the government should have firmly told the IPL organisers much earlier that it would divert no security forces during the election.

“At a time when the destiny of one billion Indians is being decided, there is nothing more important than the security of voters,” he said.

“After all, the country is holding general elections in five phases due to security concerns for voters,” he told reporters here.

Asked if the country would not be exposed to allegations that it was unable to provide security cover for holding IPL matches here, he said: “What others say is not important. As a country, we have to see our priorities. And there could be nothing more important than the security of voters to ensure free and fair elections.”

Communist Party of India (CPI) leader D.Raja said: “We are in the election process, the home ministry tried to explain to the organisers whether the IPL management was aware of the elections or not. I never knew that the IPL leadership would be so apolitical.”

He added: “The IPL is doing this for profit and when you do something for profit, you cannot expect a country to change its elections. They cannot take the country for granted. People in India have feelings for cricket, but they (IPL managers) should not exploit these feelings for profit.”

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