Government awaits response of states before deciding IPL dates

March 5th, 2009 - 7:25 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, March 5 (IANS) The government is waiting for the response of states hosting the games of the Indian Premier League (IPL) as well as the Election Commission after which it will decide whether the popular cricket matches can go ahead at about the same time as the coming general elections this April and May.
“We are awaiting the response of the host states and will then decide. I am not aware of any fresh dates that have been finalised,” Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta told IANS.

Though the IPL organisers have told the home ministry that they do not require any central forces for security at the respective stadiums and cricketers, home ministry officials are not very keen on the idea of having the matches while campaign and polling will be in full swing.

The attack on Sri Lankan cricketers in Lahore Tuesday prompted the security establishment to hold a review of the security arrangement for the 45-day IPL event starting April 10.

Home Minister P. Chidambaram himself suggested that the IPL management should consider postponing its second edition as the terror attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Pakistan cast a shadow on the event and would further strain security forces who would be deployed in strength for the elections.

Chidamabaram is already on record stating that terrorists might attempt to do something “dramatic” during the month-long general elections. The poll dates are April 16, 23 and 30 and May 7 and 13.

“We have specific intelligence about the movement of people. In the run-up to the elections, there will be great temptation to attempt something dramatic,” the home minister stated, emphasising that every piece of intelligence was being scrutinised minutely.

He had asked the home secretary to get in touch with the IPL organisers and discuss re-scheduling of the dates because of the non-availability of paramilitary forces in view of the polls which will require 2.1 million security personnel.

“An attack on cricketers here, especially in a showpiece tournament like the IPL is the last thing we need,” said a senior intelligence functionary.

On Thursday, IPL organisers and their parent body, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) had reportedly written a letter to Chidambaram stating that they did not require central paramilitary forces and would make do with state police forces.

The tournament is to be staged in eight cities across the country and scheduled to conclude on May 24.

The states where the IPL matches are scheduled are Delhi, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

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