New Delhi: The Indian Premier League suffered a fresh setback Friday when the government refused to accept the revised schedule submitted by the organisers on security grounds, throwing the event into doubt.
The IPL's second season is scheduled to be held April 10 to May 24, however nationwide parliamentary elections take place April 16 to May 13 in five phases, meaning the two events clash.
IPL organisers had submitted a new fixture schedule avoiding games taking place on the same day as voting so that police and state security personnel do not have to try and cope with both events on the same day.
In light of the attacks in Mumbai in November and on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Pakistan earlier this month fears have been expressed that the IPL may also be a target for militants.
But the government Friday rejected the new fixture schedule, with the tournament due to begin in less than a month.
State police chiefs told a high-level meeting chaired by federal home minister P. Chidambaram it would be difficult to provide adequate security for the IPL because police need to be continually on standby during election time.
"IPL organisers have been advised to accommodate the concerns of various state governments and draw up a revised schedule and submit the same to the ministry," Home secretary Madhukar Gupta said in a statement.
The world's top cricketers, including the newly recruited England stars Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff, are due to take part in the multi-million-dollar Twenty20 tournament across the country.
"A new schedule will be announced soon," IPL commissioner Lalit Modi told the CNN-IBN news channel.
However, another rejection by the government is almost certain to lead to the tournament's cancellation this year since there is no other window for the six-week event in an overcrowded international cricket calendar.
The tournament cannot go beyond May 24 because players need time to prepare for the world Twenty20 championships starting in England on June 5.
Although the IPL has hired a private South African security firm to liaise with local authorities, police and paramilitary forces will still be required to protect the cricketers, officials and fans.