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Chepauk ‘externed’

Editorial |

There may be a mere trickle flowing in the Cauvery these days but such is the velocity of the emotional, perhaps even irrational, passions unleashed by the inter-state river-waters dispute that it has sufficed to flush the once-iconic cricketing venue, Chepauk, out of this year’s Indian Premier League.

Returning from IPL-exile after two-years, the popular home side ~ Chennai Super Kings ~ now find themselves forced to re-locate and be denied the “home support” that adds power to the elbow.

The players are politically-conscious enough not to publicly express their feelings, but when the league reaches its climax those whose love for the game had its foundation in the heritage Madras Cricket Club could well rue the manner in which political protest cost them dear.

For both the IPL and the “Super Kings” have become collateral damage in the scrap with election-bound Karnataka, and Central and state governments keen on fishing in poll-polluted waters.

It is a matter of grave concern that what passes of as a state government lacked the gumption to tell the Opposition partes ~ matinee idols included ~ to “lay off” the IPL and ignored the apex court’s directive (was that wishful thinking?) to maintain law and order, and Raisina Hill remained aloof ~ as it always does now when its own political stakes are minimal.

Once again has the favourite whipping boy taken a lambasting. Just because there is “nothing official” about the money-spinning IPL does not mean that the state and Central government are absolved of all duties.

It is an obsolete, skewed, socialistic concept that anything private does not merit the administration’s backing. As skewed as the calculations that since CSK’s sponsors are unlikely to pull out at the last minute the team’s finances will not be crippled: what about the hundreds of small traders who would gain from the trickle-down effect of at least six matches in Chennai, do they count for nothing?

And what about the interests of the fans ~ thousands of them did brave rowdy protests to reach their beloved Chepauk for CSK’s opening fixture? Sure the cause for protest is valid, but remember that fans are voters too. That Chennai’s image, at home and abroad, as a cultured, civilised city has been negated is a sad spin-off. And will shifting the IPL out of Chennai open the floodgates of prosperity in the Cauvery?

A dangerous precedent has been set. Today it is Chennai and the IPL, tomorrow it could be something somewhere else upon which disrupting passions can be raised.

Chennai has set many a poor example in recent times, the contagious malaise could spread. This is an open invitation to mob rule, the political leadership encourages its fringe-elements to opt for outrageous forms of protest while those elected promising to govern spinelessly “hunker down”.