IPL, Lok Sabha dates clash; political parties say polls a bigger pull

March 3rd, 2009 - 5:12 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata PartyNew Delhi, March 3 (IANS) This year, the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket carnival dates will clash with the five-phase general elections. But political parties say while Indians are known to be cricket crazy, the glitz of the IPL would not take away from the pull of the elections.
Politicians preparing for the mega elections, in which 714 million people will be eligible to vote, say the IPL will lose out to the polls. Both are beginning around the same time in April and ending in May.

The IPL season starts April 10 and will witness 59 matches till it concludes May 24. The five-phase elections will begin April 16 and end May 16, when the results are announced.

The IPL will see two matches in a day at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Each match would last three hours.

The IPL managers have said they will reschedule the matches that coincide with the polling dates. But political parties may have a tough time to attract people to their campaign meetings.

Former union minister and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Shahnawaz Hussain said the IPL season this year could be a “loss making proposition”.

“This season is likely to be a loss season for the IPL,” Hussain, the parliamentary party spokesperson of the BJP, said.

Hussain told IANS: “IPL will not affect the electioneering process. In a democratic country like India, people will be more interested in the electioneering process than the IPL matches. The elections are important as it decides the future of nation. So, elections will be important to people.”

The Congress party’s political strategist, Jairam Ramesh, who resigned from the central ministry to concentrate on election work, said: “I have no idea about the IPL. I have absolutely no idea.”

Devendra Nath Dwivedi, permanent invitee to the Congress Working Committee (CWC), said: “People who are crazy about cricket switch on the television to see the uninterrrupted flow of sixes and fours. But the same people are also keen to know who will score the sixes, fours and centuries in the election battle. So I don’t think the IPL will affect the election process.”

He said cricket and politics were different fields.

The Communist Party of India (CPI) assistant secretary Suravaram Sudhakar Reddy said: “I don’t think the IPL shows will deviate the people’s attention from their burning issues.”

Reddy, who represents Andhra Pradesh’s Nalgonda parliamentary constituency in parliament, also said: “It (the IPL) is not an issue in the rural constituencies.”

Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) politburo member S. Ramachandran Pillai, however felt the clash of dates is a “serious issue”. “It is a very serious issue. Our party will discuss how will it affect the electioneering process,” he said.

“The basic issues of the people are being discussed in the general elections. How programmes like IPL would deviate the people’s attention from the real issues should seriously be discussed,” Pillai said.

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