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Don’t involve IPL in water wars

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The entry of Rajnikanth and Kamal Haasan has definitely enlivened the political theatre of Tamil Nadu – various audiences are watching with great interest how each of them will try to gain the space vacated by the death of Jayalalithaa. Competition one expects from them, but cooperation is doubly compelling. So it was yesterday, when the two stars shared the stage for hours, to protest against the Centre delaying the setting up of the Cauvery Management Board for release of waters from Karnataka. But they decided to make a villain out of IPL too. This kind of populist scapegoating of business is in the worst traditions of Indian politics, reducing the stars’ claims of delivering difference to a dark joke.

Inveighing against playing IPL matches there when the whole of Tamil Nadu is agitating for a Cauvery solution, Thalaiva urged the organizers to cancel the matches in the state. Failing that, he suggested that members of the Chennai Super Kings team should wear black band during their matches, so that the Cauvery plaint goes out to the whole country. All of this may make the job of local police tougher tomorrow, when MA Chidambaram Cricket Stadium hosts the IPL match between Chennai Super Kings and Kolkata Knight Riders.

Besides being a hugely successful global brand that the whole of India can be proud of, IPL has given cricketers miraculous new opportunities and inspired several other sports leagues too. Dragging it into water wars – which must be sorted out between the states, Centre and courts – does nobody any good at all. The hard work of negotiating policy compromises or building infrastructure, cannot be substituted by attacks on business, or sports, or cinema. Surely their fans expect Rajnikanth and Kamal Haasan to show a way forward – rather than just regurgitate populist political pablum that in reality only hurts public interest. Because that is already in abundant supply.

Updated: April 9, 2018 — 5:37 am

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