Politicians play spoilsport at felicitation function

Published: Wednesday, September 26, 2007, 3:35 [IST]
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Sharad Pawar (file photo)Mumbai: It was supposed to be their day of glory for the fifteen players who had won the Twenty20 World Cup, but the BCCI top brass and state politicians managed to steal the thunder during the felicitation function at the Wankhede Stadium here today.

The front row was occupied by the BCCI top brass and Maharashtra state ministers with skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni the only Team India member finding a place in it.

Also on the front row were BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah, vice presidents Lalit Modi and Rajeev Shukla, and former Board president I S Bindra.

In fact, the whole spectacle seemed like a carefully organised political rally with Board President Sharad Pawar, who is the Union Agriculture Minister and a political heavyweight of the state, playing to the galleries in his short speech as if it was an election rally.

He was clearly trying to take full mileage out of the unexpected victory that Dhoni and his boys achieved at the Wanderers in Johannesburg
Not to be outdone, Deputy Chief Minister R R Patil gave a speech in Marathi that seemed unusually long and out of place in the setting, with other state politicians also sharing the spotlight.

When his turn to speak came, Dhoni could not help remarking, ''A lot has been said in English and Marathi. Now let me stick to Hindi.''

R R Patil terms criticism 'unfair': Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister R R Patil said that criticism in a section of the media, about the politicians having taken centrestage at the felicitation function of victorious Team India at Wankhede stadium was 'unfair'.

Talking to reporters here, Mr Patil said the entire programme was organised by the government of Maharashtra and the decision to hold the felicitation was taken only last morning. ''Due to heavy rains and Ganesh Visarjan, we did not get time to organise it on bigger scale. Hence, the function was organised at Wankhede stadium. There were only two rows on the small stage. Due to lack of time, we could not construct a bigger stage,'' he added.

''As a representative of the state government only myself and sports minister Vasant Purke were present on stage while the rest were BCCI officials. All cricketers and support staff were felicitated. State ministers present at the function were seated in the audience. Hence, this criticism is unfair,'' he said.

Mr Patil also refused to take cognisance of BJP national general secretary Gopinath Munde's comments about the government insulting the cricketers.

Mr Munde in a statement said that the politicians were behaving as if they had won the world cup. He described as unfortunate that the players except Dhoni were made to sit behind the politicians.

''Instead of lauding the historic win, the Wankhede felicitation was a political show,'' he alleged.


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