Millennium Post

Politics keeps IPL away

Ramesh Thakur, 46, who runs a small hotel in Palampur, some 12 kilometer down to the Dharamshala has sent his four employees on leave few days back. Reason- Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) has not been given any IPL matches this season which will clearly result in lower  turnout of tourists to the scenic hilly terrains of Dhauladhar ranges.

‘The game has been creating lot of employment here and with no matches this year, the small town will lose business worth crores,’ said Rajendra Rastogi, president of Dharamshala hotels union.
The game of cricket also brings indirect employment to thousands of locals as businesses like transportation and restaurants run at full capacity during IPL season.

The picturesque HPCA Stadium has hosted nine IPL matches in the last four seasons. It has a long list of achievements for promoting young talent such as Rishi Dhawan, a cricketer from Himachal Pradesh who was sold for Rs 3 crore at the IPL auction, and Sushma Verma, a Shimla girl, who currently plays for the Indian (women) cricket team.

Now when one goes deep into the reasons why the state couldn’t hold IPL matches this year, both the ruling Congress and the opposition the BJP have begun to blame each other.
The HPCA is accusing the Congress-led state government of non-assistance for matches. The BCCI secretary had earlier sought suggestions from the state police on hosting matches in Dharamshala since its personnel were required for election duty.

Police had claimed that it was unable to provide security since it had already sent six companies as requisitioned by the Election Commission (EC) for poll duty in various parts of the country. ‘The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the HPCA had approached the various government authorities for provision of security cover for hosting IPL matches,’ informed HPCA press secretary Mohit Sood.

Blaming the HP government for the scuttling of the matches, he added, ‘it has been done on the directions of chief minister Virbhadra Singh and his coterie of advisors and officials.’
Sood also alleged that the state government was felt ‘insecure’ by the success of the game and the infrastructure created under the leadership of HPCA chief Anurag Thakur, a BJP MP and son of former chief minister Prem Singh Dhumal.

The BCCI had offered the HPCA five IPL matches. HPCA wanted the matches to be held from May 10-14 but the state government bluntly refused to provide the security for the matches.

HPCA spokesperson Sanjay Sharma said a request was made to the government to hold matches from 10 -14 May since there was an eight-day gap between elections and counting. ‘We have approached the government on a number of occasions but it purposely scuttled our request,’ he said in a statement.

Administrators, state govt cry foul

In another blow to the HPCA, the state government got sanction to initiate proceedings against former CM Prem Kumar Dhumal, also a HPCA’s patron-in-chief, for alleged wrongdoing in allotment of land to the cricket body for constructing a players’ residential complex near the stadium. A top investigating official, on the condition of anonymity, said that no sanction has been sought as yet against Dhumal’s son Thakur, who is also a BCCI joint secretary.

Eighteen people have been named in the vigilance chargesheet, while five have been accused for getting the land allotted. The accused are Dhumal, Thakur, additional chief secretary Deepak Sanan, deputy commissioner Ajay Sharma and additional deputy commissioner Gopal Chand.
Now crying a foul play, HPCA has written a letter to president Pranab Mukherjee, demanding immediate removal of Governor Urmila Singh for her ‘biased’ decision to grant sanction to prosecute a former chief minister.  

HPCA director Sanjay Sharma said the governor ‘has acted contrary to the law laid down by the Supreme Court.’ He claimed the governor’s act assumes much importance during the ongoing Lok Sabha elections as HPCA is led by Dhumal’s son and BJP MP Anurag Thakur, who is seeking re-election from the Hamirpur Lok Sabha seat.

Hitting out at BJP over the issue, Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee (HPCC) president Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu said, ‘the manner in which BJP is going all out to defend the misdeeds of HPCA, it appears that there is something fishy about the matter.’

Challenging BJP to come clean on the issue, he asked, ‘Is it not true that HPCA was registered as a society when it got land on lease from the government? How could it convert itself into a company and transfer the entire government land (taken on lease) in the name of the company, that too without the knowledge of the government and approval of the Registrar (Societies)?’
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