Delhi government cancels felicitation ceremony after BCCI objection

New Delhi, Dec 5 (IANS) The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Saturday prevented the Delhi government from felicitating the players of the World Cup winning squads of 1983 and 2011 from the capital at the Ferozeshah Kotla as the planned ceremony would have violated norms.

The state government had informed the Delhi and Districts Cricket Association (DDCA) that it wanted to honour the World Cup winning players, and former India captains Bishen Singh Bedi and Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi inside the ground.

The list had a total of 10 names that included, apart from Bedi and Pataudi, the recently retired Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Sunil Valson, Kirti Azad, Madan Lal, Mohinder Amarnath, Virat Kohli and Ashish Nehra.

But the BCCI refused to give permission for the use of the ground as according to the rules, a function of this nature cannot be held inside the playing arena in the middle of an international match. The Kotla is currently hosting the final match of the four-Test series between India and South Africa.

The BCCI and International Cricket Committee (ICC) match referee Jeff Crowe however, had consented to allow the ceremony to be held outside the playing area.

“BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur sent an e-mail to the DDCA at around 10 p.m. on Friday, saying that any such function cannot be held in the playing arena during the course of the Test match,” DDCA treasurer Ravinder Manchanda told the media.

Apart from holding the felicitation ceremony inside the ground, the ruling Aam Admi Party (AAP) also wanted the function to be broadcast live. The official broadcasters had also allowed them air time from 9:05 a.m. to 9:15 a.m.

AAP leader Rahul Mehra had also reportedly demanded that Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal should be allowed to take a lap of honour inside the ground which was rejected by the BCCI.

Senior officials of the Delhi Police had also expressed their reservations on the proposal, citing security concerns.

All arrangements for the function had been made and it was scheduled to start at 9:05 a.m., but the Delhi government refused to go ahead with the proceedings. The ceremony was cancelled around half an hour before the scheduled start.

“The BCCI had said that the event could be held outside the ground. But the Delhi government informed that they had decided to cancel the programme,” Manchanda added.

A BCCI functionary later said that the state government had planned everything on their without informing the BCCI and decided to pull out once they realised that they will not get the desired mileage from the event.

“They never asked us formally. BCCI told them on Friday evening that please give us something in writing. It is then that they applied for permission in writing. They had taken a unilateral decision to do whatever they want and only informed us later,” he told IANS on condition of annonymity.

“They had planned everything out by themselves and only decided to inform us later. Their attitude reeked of arrogance. We had given them ample space in a location inside the stadium befitting the stature of the event. They could easily have held the function properly.

“Mehra had also told the BCCI’s broadcast in-charge that the entire event be shown live on television. But we never agreed to a live broadcast. So when they realised that they will not get any mileage from the event, they decided to call it off,” he added.

Justice Mukul Mudgal, the head of the Supreme Court appointed committee that is overseeing the ongoing Test match, said that it was the Delhi government’s decision to call off the event.

“I am not blaming anyone. The Delhi government has done a commendable job by bringing school children to the ground and allowing them to watch the Test match. I had conveyed everything on my behalf to the parties concerned. All the arrangements had been made and the function was all set to be held, but the Delhi government pulled out at the last moment,” Mudgal told mediapersons.

“The DDCA is an affiliate of the BCCI and is bound by its rules and regulations. I had made arrangements to hold the function at a suitable location inside the stadium befitting its stature,” he added.

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