Monday, March 16, 2009

IPL hits roadblock as Home Ministry gets tough

The Indian Premier League Monday received one jolt after the other with the Home Ministry refusing to provide central forces, the Bombay High Court asking them not to discuss broadcasting rights with any other television channel and the IOA asking for the postponement of the tournament.First, another round of meeting this morning with the Home Ministry here failed to break the deadlock regarding the schedule of the second season. During the hour-and-a-half-long meeting, the five BCCI officials led by secretary N Srinivasan, were bluntly told by the Ministry that it would not be able to spare central forces for the Twenty20 tournament.The Bombay High Court then, in its first hearing of the case filed by Sony Television, asked the IPL not to discuss broadcasting rights with any other broadcaster after differences cropped up between the two over the falling out of the Big TV deal.By late afternoon, the IPL was dealt a third jolt as the Indian Olympic Association joined the debate and said the IPL should be held after the general elections.IOA president Suresh Kalmadi said that any security lapse during the IPL could cost the country the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Already this morning, Australia had indicated pulling out of the Games citing security concerns. They had also said that the Australian government may employ private security for its contingent in India.Surely, the Australian government's message seems to have shaken the IOA, which has nothing to do with cricket. But their voice is one that will be kept in mind by the government for sure.

It is also learnt that the Union Home Ministry told the IPL authorities sternly not to take the government for a ride by not holding proper consultations with the states where they want to hold the popular Twenty20 matches from next month.Before submitting the revised schedule, IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi had said that during chalking out the new fixtures, all states concerned had been taken into confidence. However, the Ministry was taken in for a surprise when the states denied that they had been consulted by the IPL organisers.N Srinivisan said after the meeting: "We expressed our concerns and difficulties."A spokesman of the Union Home Ministry said: "Once the schedule is received, the Ministry will look at it in consultation with the state Governments."Reports suggest that Kolkata may be taken off from the schedule as the state of West Bengal was demanding deployment of 30 companies of central para-military forces.Many states have voiced their inabilities to provide security during the matches. The Andhra Pradesh Government declared on Sunday that it will be able to provide security for the IPL games only after April 26, when the polls are over in the state.

The IPL and the BCCI, however, continue to put up a brave front.BCCI sources have told CNN-IBN that the tournament will go ahead, starting and ending on the previously announced dates.The sources have also said that match dates will be sorted out according to security requirements and the the only problem so far was Jaipur, which has asked for more security.The sources said the the only problem the BCCI was facing is scheduling since time is running out for a new set of dates.

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