The Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) finds itself at the centre of a political tug of war, with the Congress-led state government taking over its charge from the hands of opposition BJP MP Anurag Thakur, besides cancelling the lease of lands given to the HPCA.
The state cabinet, presided by chief minister Virbhadra Singh, at its emergency meeting on Saturday, decided to cancel the ground’s leases granted to HPCA. The lease of luxury hotel being constructed for stay of international cricket teams was also revoked and taken over by the government. Kangra’s District Sports Officer (DSO) Mahender Pratap Bharadiya has been given charge of the stadium.
Not surprisingly, Thakur is fuming. “Is it some kind of emergency imposed in Himachal Pradesh that police force was used at midnight to take over international cricket stadium in Dharamshala?
Why didn’t they wait for daylight if they thought it was legally valid?” an angry HPCA president Anurag Thakur questioned the chief minister’s motives.
Talking to dna, Thakur called it ‘political vendetta’ by the Congress government and vowed to seek legal remedy against, what he called, “foolish” step by the state government.
“We were awaiting the registrar’s verdict (under the Societies Act) before moving to the honourable High Court in Shimla. Since, the verdict has clearly upheld our stand and we shall be moving Court on Tuesday against this complete political vendetta,” said Thakur, who also heads the BJP’s youth Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha.
“Government clearly knew that it has nothing against the HPCA or me which they could use to displace us from the cricket administration. Out of frustration, a dictatorial step like this has been taken. This is probably the reply to a few uneasy questions that I raised against the chief minister few days back about taking bribe. Instead of answering those charges about Rs 3.90 crore bribe, steps like this clearly show that my charges against Virbhadra Singh are completely true,” added Thakur who is also the son of the former HP chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal.
The state government has also taken control of other HPCA cricket grounds at Lalpani (Shimla), Gumma in Kotkhai (Rural Shimla), Luhnu (Bilaspur) and Nadaun (Hamirpur) following the cabinet decision.
Meanwhile, the Ranji Trophy game between Himachal and Goa went as per schedule on Monday after it was delayed for two complete sessions on the Day 1 on Sunday.
“The match was delayed because the police officials were denying entry to outsiders on Sunday,” said HPCA joint secretary Prem Thakur, adding, “The match was, however, not affected at all on Tuesday. Hopefully, the cricketing activities will go on as per the spirit of the game.”
On his next move, Thakur looked completely unperturbed by the ongoing political vendetta and expressed his complete confidence that justice will prevail in the end.