Punjab politicians to battle out for a cause

March 11th, 2008 - 12:22 pm ICT by admin  

By Jaideep Sarin
Chandigarh, March 11 (IANS) They may be bitter foes, but top politicians in Punjab are now preparing for a real battle - this time on the cricket field and for a genuine cause. The Badal XI - a team of the ruling Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Punjab led by 81-year-old non-playing captain Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal - and the Bhattal XI led by former chief minister and Punjab Congress president Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, also a non-playing captain, will be held at the flood-lit Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) stadium at Mohali, 10 km from here, Thursday.

The charity match is being organised to collect funds for disabled players in collaboration with the Para-Olympics committee of Punjab. Nearly Rs.10 million may be raised from the match.

Cricketer, commentator, TV host and politician Navjot Singh Sidhu, the BJP MP from Amritsar, will be among three commentators at the stadium. The other two will be satirist Jaspal Bhatti and Bhagwant Mann.

“I am looking forward to this match. It will give us an opportunity to throw a volley of political satire at these leaders in an otherwise stressed out scene of Punjab politics,” Mann told IANS.

The teams will comprise legislators from both sides. A few ministers from the Badal government are also part of the Badal XI team.

Given his reputation as ‘Sixer Sidhu”, Navjot Sidhu is being kept out of the playing arena for now and has been relegated to what he is doing best these days - giving an expert comment on everything possible.

Taking the event seriously, some of the legislators and ministers have been practising at the Sector 8 DAV school cricket ground here under the supervision of former test player Yograj Singh, father and coach of Yuvraj Singh.

The event is keenly awaited given the bad blood and bitter mudslinging between the Akali-BJP and Congress leaders over the last few years - both slapping each other with corruption charges and criminal cases.

“Politics is separate. The fight there will continue. Here we are for a common social cause. But the fight will be on even in cricket,” Bhattal said.

Punjab’s young Public Works Minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa said he was looking forward to the match.

“Politicians, particularly in Punjab, are mostly portrayed negatively. This will mark a new beginning for Punjab politics,” Congress legislator Randeep Nabha said.

Entry for the public in the 35,000-capacity stadium will be free.

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