Uncertainty continues over the status of Rajasthan Royals’ home ground. Sawai Man Singh Stadium in Jaipur has not yet come into the fold of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). The board’s demand for a Memorandum of Understanding for the venue has not yet been signed.
The BCCI had categorically wanted a lease agreement signed between Rajasthan Cricket Association (RCA) and the Rajasthan Sports Council which owns the stadium. In a letter sent to the Rajasthan government last month, the BCCI had set December 20 as deadline for the lease agreement.
The deadline has passed but the agreement has not yet been signed. The RCA says the sports council has been prevaricating on the issue and putting in jeopardy Jaipur’s status as a venue of the Indian Premier League (IPL). The state government, apparently, has agreed to rent out the ground for the IPL’s purpose, though the written word has not been inked.
“It’s because of the sports council and its officials. They call us for meetings but sit over the proposal. We are helpless,” said an RCA official. The undercurrent to the whole issue is the cold war between RCA president CP Joshi and Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Ghelot, both incidentally are Congress party members.
There is another Congress member in the whole issue: Rajiv Shukla, a union minister who is also the chairman of the IPL. Shukla’s position with regard to the venue is not known, but he is believed to be a party to the demand for the need of a lease agreement.
It is being speculated in certain circles in Jaipur that a powerful BCCI official wants to hold the IPL matches in his city, and he could take advantage of the internal wrangling between the sports authorities in the state.
Lalit Modi, during his days of power, had managed to sign an agreement with the sports council for three years initially. It was later renewed for two more years but the agreement expired in July this year.
When contacted, a Rajasthan Royals official said the franchise would abide by the BCCI’s decision.