Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit has appealed to the Union Home Minister P Chidambaram not to deny the cricket fans of the capital the pleasure of witnessing the Indian Premier League matches.
Even as Chidambaram made it clear on Wednesday that the IPL should finalise its schedule in consultation with the state governments involved in holding the matches instead of revising it every now and then, Dikshit was approached by the owners of the Delhi franchise Delhi Daredevils to find ways to hold their matches in the city.
The IPL organisers dropped Delhi, Jaipur and Visakhapatnam as venues after their state governments expressed inability to provide adequate security in view of the General Elections. Delhi security comes directly under the Home Ministry.
A Daredevils spokesman admitted that the franchise officials met Dikhsit who, he said, was as keen as any Delhi cricket fan that the the IPL games should be held in the capital.
Also, on Wednesday, the Delhi Police Commissioner YS Dadwal told reporters that the security machinery in the national capital was not adequate to take care of elections as well as IPL.
Dadwal’s reasoning was that security risks cannot be taken for the IPL after the audacious attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore on March 3 during their tour of Pakistan.
However, the central government is under pressure not only from some of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) allies, but also from some industrialists who have sunk huge amounts in IPL’s second edition which is likely to cost over Rs 17 billion to earn in excess of Rs 100 billion from the 44-day Twenty20 league.
Chidambaram reiterated that the fate of the multi-billion dollar Twenty20 league rests with the state governments which will examine the thrice revised IPL schedule and his ministry would strictly go by their advice.
He told reporters after a meeting of the Union Cabinet that his ministry received the new IPL schedule and it has been sent to the state governments.
“Any decision will be taken after the states give their verdict on the dates,” Chidambaram said.
The IPL scheduled to be held from April 10 to May 24 and the home ministry does not want to take chances by stretching central forces to provide security for both the elections and the IPL.
The government has made it clear to the organisers that it will not be able to spare any of the paramilitary forces and wanted state governments to take the call on security for the IPL matches.
Dharamshala and Ahmedabad have been named as the new venues in place of Delhi and Jaipur. The organisers are also looking at Raipur in Chattisgarh as a possible venue.
The West Bengal government, however, has cleared the schedule after the change of dates.
The schedule of matches submitted by the IPL bosses on Tuesday provides for staging all the home matches of the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) between April 11 and April 26 leaving a clear four-day gap before the firsat phase of the Lok Sabha election in the state April 30.
“We have gone through the latest list. I discussed the matter with chief secretary (Ashok Mohan Chakraborty) today (Wednesday). We don’t have any more objection, and we have informed Delhi accordingly,” state home secretary Ardhendu Sen said.
As per the schedule, the Shah Rukh Khan-owned KKR will be playing their home matches at the Eden Gardens April 11, 15, 16, 18, 22, 24 and 26.
The state government had earlier objected to the schedule saying it could not organise the Lok Sabha elections and the IPL simultaneously.
West Bengal is set to have three-phase elections April 30, May 7 and May 13.