IPL lands in Cauvery row in TN

IPL lands in Cauvery row in TN

Indian Premier League (IPL) and politics have always been inseparable in Tamil Nadu and in 2018, the most prestigious and cash-rich 20-20 tournament finds itself in the centre of the raging Cauvery river water row.

What began as feeble voices demanding that IPL matches at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai be shifted or boycotted, have now turned into a large chorus with political parties jumping on to the "boycott IPL" bandwagon.

IPL ran into rough weather in Chennai in 2013 when the then powerful Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa demanded that Sri Lankan players be dropped from matches played in the city.

That was at the height of the one-upmanship battle between the AIADMK and her arch-rival the DMK on India's inaction in bringing to book the perpetrators of the human rights violations against hapless Tamils in the last lap of Sri Lanka's three-decade-old bloody civil war that Jayalalithaa put forth the demand.

Needless to say, the "demand" was immediately fulfilled by the IPL given Jayalalithaa's clout in the political arena.

Having had a smooth sail since 2014, IPL now faces yet another litmus test from Tamil nationalist groups.

Though majority of the tickets for the matches to be held in Chennai have been sold out, the campaign to boycott IPL is gaining momentum with AIADMK rebel   T T V Dhinakaran, whose faction now functions under the name of Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam, appealing to fans to "boycott" the tournament and protests against its holding increasing every day.

"Ban IPL matches in TN until Cauvery Management Board is formed," wrote Dalit leader Thol Thirumavalavan on his Twitter page.

People who first floated the idea of boycotting IPL matches in Chennai said if the stands at the stadium in Tamil Nadu's capital are empty every single match, there would be a discussion in the drawing room of every household on why this has happened.

"I never called for a ban. I proposed the idea of a boycott, in fact, voluntary boycott to show solidarity with our farmers and to tell the country that the Union Government is doing a grave injustice to the people of Tamil Nadu. This will be a more powerful protest than a day-long bandh which finds hardly space on the national media," sports commentator Sumanth C Raman told DH.

Raman was next only to popular TV host and musician James Vasanthan to appeal to IPL fans to boycott the tournament to send out a strong message to the country.

As the first IPL match nears, Chennai on Friday saw protests against its conduct with scores of people holding agitation inside the MRTS station in Mandaveli.

Unperturbed by the protests and boycott calls, the Tamil Nadu government tried to wash off its hands saying that it has nothing to do with the tournament except for providing security to the players and the stadium.

"IPL is run by the BCCI and they will decide on the matches. It is not for us to decide," Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar told reporters on Friday.

Sources said the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association is closely watching the situation, without giving many details into their line of thought.

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