Play in Ahmedabad or call off series: BJP

Published: Monday, February 14, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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Ahmedabad:Peeved by Pakistan cricket team's reluctance to play in Ahmedabad, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) accused Islamabad of attempting to create "fissures in our society" and called for cancellation of the series between the arch-rivals.

"We are certainly not against the tour and want it to go on without any hitch. But we will not tolerate any blackmail and attempt to create fissures in our society," BJP Parliamentary party spokesman Vijay Malhotra told reporters in New Delhi on Sunday.

Malhotra said Pakistan's refusal to play a Test match in Ahmedabad is baffling since West Indies and New Zealand have played a One-day and Test match respectively since 2002, the year the state was hit by communal riots.

"The basic purpose of every series or competition is to create goodwill and friendship. This purpose will be killed if they do not play in Ahmedabad. We hope good sense will prevail upon them and they will play in the city," said Malhotra, who is also the President of General Association of National Sports Federation.

"By citing political reasons for its refusal to play in Ahmedabad, Pakistan is interfering in India's internal affairs and is trying to instigate one section of the community against the other.

"The have also cited security reasons, but Ahmedabad is the most peaceful cities in India now. It is more peaceful than any city in Pakistan. Even the Muslim organisations in the state have condemned Pakistan's refusal to play there," he said.

"When nobody was going to Pakistan, the Indian team went there sending a positive signal to the world. But instead of being grateful to India, they now want shifting of venue," Malhotra said adding the Centre must not give in to Pakistan's demand.

"The government must take a stronger view and must not let anyone compromise on the prestige and honour of the country," the BJP leader said.

"But if Pakistani leadership still insists on not playing in Ahmedabad and tries to create a wedge between the communities in India, it will be better to call off the tour," he said.The Pakistan team is scheduled to arrive later this month to play three Tests and five One-day internationals against India.

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