Deadlock on, Centre asks IPL organisers to consult states

The fate of the 2nd edition of the IPL hangs in balance with the Home Ministry bluntly telling the BCCI that it would not be able to spare central forces.

updated: March 17, 2009 09:12 IST
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New Delhi:

The Indian Premier League's attempts to break the deadlock over its schedule on Monday suffered a fresh blow with the Centre rejecting the cosmetic changes in the fixture and bluntly telling the organisers to consult the state governments while finalising the dates.

With less than a month to go for the cash-rich Twenty20 event to get underway, the Home Ministry's rejection of the second proposed schedule submitted by the IPL organisers has put a question mark on the fate of the tournament beginning April 10.

A meeting between top Home Ministry and BCCI officials to resolve the imbroglio related to the dates ended without resolution with the Centre making it clear that it was not in a position to spare para-military forces because of the Lok Sabha elections.

A three-member BCCI team, led by Secretary N Srinivasan, met Special Secretary (Internal Security) Raman Srivastava in the Home Ministry where they were told not to indulge in cosmetic changes and rather hold consultations with state governments where they would like to hold the Twenty20 matches.

"The Home Ministry have expressed their concerns, they have explained it to us in details. We've also explained our difficulties and concerns and the importance of all the stakeholders," Srinivasan said.

The IPL organisers had suggested changing the venue at Visakhapatnam to Dharamshala as Andhra Pradesh Government had categorically refused to provide security there for four matches between April 19 to 29, official sources said.

The Home Ministry officials said cosmetic changes were not required and that they should hold proper talks with the state governments.

During the 90-minute meeting, the ministry expressed its "concerns and limitations" in sparing para-military forces for the cricket extravaganza because of the Lok Sabha polls.

During the meeting, the BCCI team was asked to work out a new schedule in consultation with the states where the matches are to be played, a Home Ministry spokesman said, adding "once the schedule is received, the Ministry will look at it in consultation with the states."

The Ministry on March 13 had rejected the revised schedule of the IPL organisers and said it "may not be feasible to play matches as per the submitted schedule".

"It is not possible to exempt any state from its promise to release state police personnel for election duties because these have been taken into account in arriving at the overall availability of security personnel," the Ministry had said while rejecting the revised schedule.

Home Ministry had to do some tough talk with the BCCI officials and asked them 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, sources said.

Before submitting the revised schedule, IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi had earlier said that before 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.

The IPL is keen to hold the tournament between April 10 and May 24 as any postponement would mean that the event has to be shelved till this period next year in view of the crammed cricketing calendar.

A postponement would also entail heavy financial losses for the organisers as well as the eight franchisees many of whom have already gone ahead with their merchandising and ad campaigns.