After consistently taking forward a nationalist plank, largely on the premise that Pakistan should not be allowed to use its territory for anti-India activities and fomenting trouble in India, the BJP appears to have, one again, sacrificed its plank at the altar of political expediency.
On Monday, when Union Minister Rajiv Shukla, who also doubles up as a senior BCCI functionary, said, “The resumption of Indo-Pak cricketing ties had the go-ahead of senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley” (who doubles up as BCCI vice president), most of the BJP spokespersons were tight-lipped on whether India-Pakistan cricketing ties should be resumed even as Pakistan continues to export terror to India.
Jaitley, predictably, declined to comment. Chief spokesperson of the party Ravi Shankar Prasad, too, ‘was not available’ for making clear his party’s stand on the issue, despite repeated attempts.
Another spokesperson, Syed Shahnawaz Hussain, appeared all at sea about the decision, saying that ‘he would be able to make a detailed statement only on Tuesday’. “We have not discussed the matter with the party brass. Let us first discuss the matter in the party and then spell out our stand,” he told the Express. He, however, later said. “The team of terrorists, which was involved in the 26/11 Mumbai attack, and is living in the neighbouring country, should also be brought here.” Yet another spokesperson, Tarun Vijay, excusing himself, said, “I could not comment on the development today.” On his twitter account, however, he prominently re-tweeted Sunil Gavaskar’s statement, slamming the resumption of the Indo-Pak cricketing ties.
Of the party spokespersons, only Nirmala Sitharaman was willing to come on record on the development. “Of course, it is a BCCI decision, but we would also like the government to concentrate on bringing to book the perpetrators of the 26/11 attack,” she said. Asked specifically whether she welcomed the Indo-Pak cricket at this stage, she said “She had said what was needed to be said.” Former cricketer and BJP MP Kirti Azad, however, was scathing in his comments for the BCCI decision. “As an Indian, I am aghast. We have already burnt our fingers… What has changed in India and Pakistan ties to warrant the resumption of cricketing ties,” he said.
Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh, on the other hand, supported the resumption of the Indo-Pak cricketing ties. “Sports and politics should not be mixed. Sporting ties will help in improving the Indo-Pak relations,” he said. AICC spokesperson Manish Tewari, speaking in the same vein, said, “Politics and sports should not be mixed.”
However, there had been a clear indication of the government’s green signal to revive cricket ties after the meeting of foreign secretaries of the two countries, earlier this month. “The Foreign Secretaries also emphasised the need to promote media and sports contacts,” said the July 5 statement.