Shimla: In a matter of undisputed irony, Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh today said that the state had never refused to provide security for the India-Pakistan World T20 clash in Dharamshala scheduled for March 19.
His statements come a day after the venue of the match was shifted out of Himachal Pradesh to Kolkata’s Eden Gardens due to security reasons.
Unfazed by the move, the CM said that the decision to shift the match from Dharamsala to Kolkata was that of the International Cricket Council (ICC) and that he had no role to play in it. However, the government and other authorities in Pakistan have cited the CM’s comments saying he could not guarantee security for the Pakistani cricket team. The team has now sought a written assurance from the Indian government in order to allow its players to participate in the tournament being held in India this year.
Virbhadra also slammed Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) secretary Anurag Thakur, his biggest political rival in the state, for castigating him over the decision to shift the match venue. Thakur had said it had brought a bad name to the country. In his defence, the chief minister said the state had at no point expressed its inability to provide security for the match.
He clarified that the state government had conveyed its position in this regard even to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs.
The chief minister said the state had been providing security for such matches in the past and was also doing it for the matches of the ongoing T20 World Cup tournament also.
The ICC on Wednesday relocated the India-Pakistan group stage match, to be played on March 19, from Dharamsala to Kolkata citing security reasons.
Virbhadra Singh said it was absolutely outrageous on the part of Thakur, also a BJP MP from the state, to politicise the issue and blame the state government for shifting the venue.
He said the state ex-servicemen league, and family members of the martyrs of Kargil War and of the recent Pathankot attack martyrs were opposed to the hosting of the match in Dharamsala.
The Congress leader said he had even advised Thakur to approach the family members of the martyrs and the ex-servicemen and seek their support so that the right environment could be created ahead of the match.
He said even senior BJP leaders, including former chief minister Shanta Kumar, who is also an MP, were opposed to the holding of the match and had conveyed his resentment in writing to the prime minister and to him.
He said that instead of honouring the sentiments of the locals, Thakur was playing the blame game which showed that money was more important for the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA), which Thakur is heading, than the sentiments of the families of the martyrs.
The HPCA's showpiece stadium, 250 km from state capital Shimla, has a 25,000-seat capacity, besides a world-class indoor stadium comprising video analysis facilities, a club lounge, restaurant, bar and banquet hall.
(With IANS inputs)