India-Pakistan Lafadaa (IPL) series
I’m glad the Indian Premier League has salvaged itself from denigrating into an India Pakistan Lafadaa series. It wasn’t for the first time that its overtly arrogant impresario, Lalit Modi placed big bucks riding on the tournament above national prestige. He took the cricketing minstrel to South Africa last year when the Centre refused to put Lok Sabha elections at risk by sparing troops for his moneymaking extravaganza bang in the middle of the poll campaign.
This time Modi got dangerously close to making the Indian establishment look like the one across our western borders in Pakistan. The franchises’ secret deal to keep Pakistani players out –upon putting them up for auction –brought into question Indian’s unique record of hospitality and civility of conduct.
For years now, Pakistan has been stingy with visas to our artistes while we’ve kept doors open for the likes of Ghulam Ali, Adnan Sami and Zeba Bakhtiar. Our Bollywood is a celebration of sub-continental citizenry despite occasional roars of the Shiv Sena and demands for a reciprocal Indian ban by such popular singers as Jasjit Singh and Abhijeet.
Successive regimes didn’t budge for such a policy would’ve been against the idea that’s India. So when Modi pulled Bharat down from its high moral perch, one wondered as to who was running India’s foreign policy: the UPA or a bunch of glamorous industrialists, film stars and socialites?
For a couple of days, Page Three guys and dolls dominated Front Pages in newspapers with their cost-benefit analysis of keeping out the ‘Pakis.’ They talked of the risk of playing them in the 26/11 scarred Mumbai and how a little issue between the two countries could see them pulling out of the tourney.
Their concerns were valid. But they could’ve saved the T-20 champs the humiliation and India the resultant embarrassment by stating them upfront at the very outset. The Pakistan Cricket Board would’ve understood if told that the political and security climate in India wasn’t conducive for its players joining the League this season.
One can perhaps pardon Modi for his failure to talk straight with the Pakistanis. But the insinuation that the IPL acted at New Delhi’s behest to keep out Pakistani cricketers was unpardonable for being the figment of his devious imagination.
It was left to P Chidambaram to call Modi’s bluff. The Home Minister’s recognition of the Pakistani anguish was earlier articulated by Shah Rukh Khan, the one and the only among the franchises to stand up and accept the collective deceit that blocked the Pak presence. Together, they undid the damage, paving the way for a new beginning.
The denouement scripted by Modi was tragic, to state the least.