Mumbai: Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray Thursday urged all politicians to keep off cricket for the betterment of the sport.
Thackeray’s comment came in the wake of the ongoing controversy between senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Gopinath Munde and Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar over the post of Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) president.
Last month, Pawar was elected unopposed to the post after contender Munde’s nomination papers were rejected on technical grounds by the MCA.
Peeved by the denial to contest for the post, Munde moved a Mumbai court and was granted a temporary injunction against Pawar, who has been restrained from functioning as MCA president for a week.
Against this backdrop of the controversy, Thackeray in an edit in the party mouthpiece Saamana expressed disgust at the kind of control exercised by politicians over various cricket bodies in the country.
“Cricket is played only in 11 nations, but in most countries the game is free from political shackles. In United Kingdom, Prince Charles does not crave to become the head of its cricket body, nor is the game exploited by past or present politicians in Sri Lanka, New Zealand or Australia,” Thackeray pointed out.
Thackeray regretted that such things happen only in India and our politicians – ignoring larger public issues – seem to find nothing wrong with playing their political games over cricket.
“Pawar, who harbours prime ministerial ambitions, wants to become MCA president and Munde who wants to become Maharashtra chief minister is fighting to capture the MCA chief’s post,” he wrote.
The manner in which politicians are attracted to cricket and the game’s governing bodies conveys an impression that “all other problems of the state have been solved”, Thackeray remarked sarcastically.
“Politicians should love cricket as a sport, like how former Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray used to do. Sachin Tendulkar retired from cricket and it’s time politicians should quit the politics of the game – for the betterment of cricket,” Thackeray said.
Incidentally, Shiv Sena stalwart Manohar Joshi, a former state chief minister and Lok Sabha speaker, functioned as the MCA president between 1992-2001.
Later, senior Congress leader Vilasrao Deshmukh was elected the MCA president in July 2011 and held the post till his death in August 2012.
Pawar has already functioned as the MCA chief between 2001-02 to 2010-11 and was elected for another term last month.