Playing cricket… Off the field

With politics dominating the run-up to the first test, the past four days have been a welcome relief with blissful cricket stealing the limelight. The politicos are now back with a vengeance, as they poured out their reactions on the just concluded match to our cricket correspondent last evening. Here is the scoop-dupe report on the aftermath of a sensational match.

Prime Minister Vajpayee has called for a national debate on the debacle and wanted to know how India could convert a victory into failure. Sources in the PMO said that the proposed Cabinet expansion has been put off as the PM is upset. The Home Minister Advani told reporters in Ayodhya that the Indians should continue their ‘hot pursuit’ to Delhi and finish the Pakistanis there.

He said Pakistan?s victory was due to the ISI. When asked to elaborate, he said it was India?s Suicidal Instinct that helped the touring side. FM Yashwant Sinha, squeezed himself out of a hectic budget meeting and told waiting reporters that India lost because they could not make up the deficit and said that there was a lesson in it for the nation.

He called for tough measures to combat deficit and said India would start winning from September. He, however, refused to commit in which fiscal year that would happen.

BJP spokesman Venkaiah Naidu began his press briefing with the customary invocation that there was no threat to the government owing to the cricket defeat and blamed the media for playing it all up. Displaying a bunch of morning newspapers, he pointed to the headlines which unanimously ‘alleged’ that India has lost.

Meanwhile, reports from all over India say that the Sangh Parivar was burning effigies of the two umpires, as the umpires themselves were not available to be burnt.

In Mumbai, Bal Thackeray has said that the tragedy could have been averted had the Shiv Sena been given a free hand. He has called upon all the sainiks to now dig up trenches in the outfield bordering the boundary line at the Kotla so that the Pakistanis dare not take out another victory lap.

The Congress, meanwhile, hailed Pakistan?s success as a victory for secularism and added that the Indian cricket team was the best guarantor for secularism- read, Pakistan victory. It was however all quiet at Sonia?s end as all sources close to 10, Janpath were busy watching the match.

The Left parties have in the meanwhile called a bandh to celebrate Pakistan?s victory and claimed that the bandh was already a success. Mulayam hailed Akram?s men for upholding secularism by foiling BJP?s communal designs while Laloo Devi and Rabri Prasad gave an extra helping of fodder and cotton seed to the cattle in their backyard to celebrate the victory of secularism. Their Morcha is also all set to join the Bandh so that Rabri can cook for Laloo that day.

Mamata blamed the Leftists like Akram and Ganguly for India?s defeat and said a separate Ministry for cricket, preferrebly under Nitish Kumar should be formed forthwith. She however maintained a meaningful silence when asked who would fill up the slot vacated by Nitish Kumar.

AP CM Naidu said Indians should start playing cyber cricket instead of cypher cricket and offered to create a virtual stadium for that purpose.

Back home in Chennai, the venue of the triumph or defeat, depending on whether you are secular or communal, the reaction was mixed. Chief Minister Karunanidhi exulted that the match has proved that TN was a safe place for the minorities and remarked in a lighter vein, while adjusting the yellow towel on his shoulders, that the Pakistanis were able to win because they never sported tilaks.

‘And the sacred thread too’, chipped in nephew Maran, who was at hand as usual, looming over the CM.

DK chief Veeramani said India lost because they believed in god and Pakistan won because they believed in their god, which was okay and called upon the people to be rational and shun symbolisms. He said he would start wearing a black dhoti,too, henceforth as a symbol of his views.

AIADMK supremo Ms.Jayalalitha has said that the Indian team has forgotten how to win and wondered if the selective amnesia has become total. MDMK chief Vaiko said it was not proper to blame the LTTE for the defeat. Meanwhile, in a hurriedly convened press meet, Dr Subramaniyam Swamy declared that had the Indians dragged on till the close of play, he would have filed a Private Interest Litigation and somehow got a stay order, at least from the adjoining Tennis Court.

Seeking a judicial enquiry into the ‘cricket scam’, he demanded that the entire Indian team resign and if they don’t, be dismissed forthwith. When reporters wanted to know who would play the next match, Dr.Swamy was evasive and ended the press conference as hurriedly as he started it.

TMC chief GKM told our correspondent to contact the Pakistanis when asked to comment on their victory as only they had won and not he. He also suggested that one should ask only the Indians about the defeat as it was they who lost. Wait and see, was his reply when asked who would win the next test.

He was however dead certain that if one of the teams won, the other would lose. Veteran man of words, CS has called upon the youth, especially the likes of Afridi and Tendulkar, to shun violence on the pitch and said that Azhar should have been adjudged the man of the match as he sternly refused to hit the ball, offering his pads instead.

Political commentator Cho said that India lost because Pakistan won and Pakistan won because India lost and added that Rajini was the best bet for India. Super(stitious)Star Rajini, for his part, said that India would surely win one day, though he himself cannot say when, where, how and why.

In a statement read out by aide Sathyanarayana in his presence while he himself smoked with the left hand even as the right hand was busy stroking his receding hairline and chin alternatingly, the Star suggested that the match be held in the Himalayas where the gods, particularly Arunachalam, are at hand to bless. He has even offered to arrange it on his next visit to the hills, which is slated on the eve of the next elections.

Not to be left out, forest brigand and well known poacher-killer,Veerappan has also sent a cassette to the State Secretariat through the editor of Durvasar. Brig. Veerappan, according to the transcript read out by the Chief Secretary in the presence of the CM and his entire Cabinet, has demanded that the Indian team should be granted general amnesty as they have voluntarily surrendered. He has also threatened to take the entire team as hostages, if his words are not heeded.

Our Crime reporter adds: Twenty five persons were arrested yesterday evening for selling genuine tickets to unsuspecting fans outside the stadium. The tickets were for the last day’s play today.

e-mail the writer at
[email protected]

Jawahar T R