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|Political parties divided over Pakistan tour|
Friday, February 13 2004 14:31 Hrs (IST)
A circumspect Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) rejected suggestions that it did not favour the tour because of the possibility of Indian team's bad performance affecting the 'feel-good' factor ahead of Lok Sabha elections.
Congress spokesman Kapil Sibal said it was for Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to take a decision on the Indian team's tour of Pakistan inconsultations with the Government.
RJD chief Laloo Prasad Yadav said the Indian team should go to Pakistan as part of confidence-building measure.
"Due attention must be paid to the security aspect but India should play with Pakistan", Yadav told reporters in Patna.
Recalling that even Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and a Parliamentary team, of which Yadav was also a member, had separately visited Pakistan and met President Pervez Musharraf and others, the RJD chief pointed out that both the visits were trouble-free.
But in India "people dig the pitch if a match is organised between India and Pakistan", Yadav said without naming Shiv Sena.
In Mumbai, Sena chief Bal Thackeray asked Indian cricketers to ponder over their proposed tour of Pakistan in the light of growing cross-border infiltration of terrorists.
"Where is the need to go Pakistan when our jawans are being killed on the border and nefarious activities are going on?" Thackeray told reporters.
Referring to Pakistan's claim of full-proof security for Indian cricketers, he said "Can Pakistan be believed?".
BJP general secretary Arun Jaitley said, "as far as the tour is concerned, it is for the BCCI to decide on it and it needs the clearance of the External Affairs Ministry and the Sports Ministry," party spokesman Arun said.
Asked if the Indian team were to perform badly in Pakistan it would affect BJP's "feel good" factor that it has been seeking to generate in the country, he said "these factors don't affect the party for all parties would becheering the Indian team."
Pak safe for athletes, but not cricketers