Since he is constantly braving the brickbats, home minister Rajnath Singh is entitled to relish a rare bouquet ~ even if it was presented to him by sheer luck and he did little to earn it. With comparative performances featuring so prominently as the electoral pitch is being rolled, he has taken a quick run at the cost of his predecessor ~ the 2019 edition of the money-spinning, exhilarating, Indian Premier League will be played entirely at domestic venues. Fortunately thus far no political angle has entered the equation, yet cricket lovers will inevitably recall that in both 2009 and 2014 the super-smart P Chidambaram had ruled that the law and order machinery would be too pollstressed to “protect” the most popular cricketing fiesta on the planet. Unlike Chidambaram, who claims to be an ardent devotee of the willow game, Rajnath created no roadblocks in the way of the most-abridged format creating its unique spell of magic. True that, as always, the circumstances in 2019 do not parallel those of 2009 or 2014, yet the fans are not likely to delve into details ~ the results are what matter. And another plus-point gets added to the NDA manifesto: this one a genuine bonus. It would surely bolster the NDA boasts about providing good governance ~ Chidambaram’s brand of management was too arrogant and myopic to estimate the negative national and global impact of a country being incapable of simultaneously having a parliamentary poll and a sporting carnival.
Much interest will focus on the detailed IPL schedule when it is officially announced. It will require “compressing” so many matches between 23 March and the World Cup in England, as well as avoiding direct “clashes” with the election programme. As head of the Committee of Administrators, Mr Vinod Rai’s head will be “on the block”. While the CoA officially says it will have “detailed discussions with all the stakeholders before releasing the schedule”, the BCCI statement said “based on preliminary discussions with the appropriate central and state agencies/authorities it was decided that the 12th edition of the world’s most popular and competitive T20 tournament will be scheduled to be played in India.” The statement added “it is proposed that IPL 2019 will commence on March 23. The detailed schedule will be finalised in consultation with the appropriate authorities after the dates for the general elections are announced.”
Is there scope for reading between the lines of the two statements, and who will act as arbiter should differences develop? As an experienced civil servant the head of the CoA would be expected to have consulted the Election Commission, home ministry, television channels etc before “clearing” the 2019 league. Maybe some politicians will be unhappy: they will struggle for public attention once the cricketing action commences. The bat striking the ball resonates more positively than vindictive political bombast.