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Politicians pad up with pique

New Delhi, March 23: The Indian Political League has upstaged the Indian Premier League.

The country today witnessed the spectacle of seasoned politicians sparring over cricket and exposing in the process how deep politics has struck roots in sport.

Home minister P. Chidambaram today picked up the bat from where Narendra Modi, who dubbed the IPL shift a “national shame”, and Arun Jaitley, who found India “almost clubbed with Pakistan”, had left off last night. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) also got hit by a few political boundaries.

Chidambaram said he felt compelled to respond to some “unwarranted” comments that obliquely criticised the central government and deserved “a rejoinder”.

On BCCI president Shashank Manohar’s suggestion that the government’s attitude forced the transfer, Chidambaram said: “If he was referring to the central government, the remark is entirely unwarranted. If Manohar was referring to the state governments alone, I would like to remind him that state governments are ultimately responsible for maintaining law and order and one has to respect the judgement made by the state governments.” The home minister said there was no “reason to add politics” to a “shrewd combination of sport and business”.

Then he went on to strike back at Modi. “The most provocative comment has, expectedly, come from Shri Narendra Modi. He has described the decision of the IPL to go out of the country as a ‘national shame’. What is a national shame? Most people think that the Gujarat communal riots were a national shame.”

Chidambaram also referred to “backroom wizards” — a not-so-subtle reminder about the intricacies of governance at a time Jaitley is not contesting elections. “Chief ministers are not backroom wizards; they have to take frontline responsibility for providing security,” he said.

Chidambaram then named Jaitley who wears the twin hats of politician and Delhi cricket board official. “I know that Mr Jaitley has a penchant for exaggeration, but… he seems to have gone overboard this time.” Jaitley later said Chidambaram should concentrate on “the job assigned to him”.

Politics has become so closely associated with cricket that suggestions have been going around that the IPL could still be held in India as the Congress and its ally NCP have more or less formalised a seat-sharing deal in Maharashtra.

 

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