Varun Rattan Singh
Dharamshala has been in the news in the last fortnight time for all the good reasons. Unlike the negative publicity generated by alleged benami land deals, the media had been euphoric about the IPL matches played here. The matches did attract lot of visitors to the town and local traders did brisk business. Not only hotels, but many families too got advanced reservations for stay by their distant relatives who wanted to visit the town to escape the heat and witness the matches.
There is no doubt that the matches generate lot of euphoria in the town and pumps in good money in the local economy as well, right from makeshift biryani points, paid vehicle parkings, flag sellers, etc, coming up just before the matches and lasting till the last bowl of the league in the town. One could hear sirens blaring with vehicles carrying politicians and bureaucrats across the town. The administration had taken every possible step to ensure that the event got over without any major incident.
Politicians too had a hay day with allegations and counter-allegations flying against each other. After all, here was an issue which even overshadowed rise in petrol prices. Like one of my friends from Shimla said, “People in Dharamshala should thank Anurag Thakur for bringing the stadium to this town”. Without doubt the kind of coverage and publicity which the IPL match brings in the town has benefited with a huge impetus to tourism and hospitality sector. And citizens of Dharamshala should thank Anurag Thakur for his contribution in improving this town. A
There, however, remain few questions which must be there in minds of many Himachalis’. Suddenly this year we have one senior Congress MLA who is questioning the prices of tickets for IPL matches. Is it to do with the fact that Kings XI team stayed in a different hotel unlike the one owned by him? Netas from BJP were raising the issue of politicization of IPL by the Congress party. But one must ask them this questions, if HPCA starts projecting Anurag Thakur and not cricket in its hoardings across the town, is it not politics at play? Maybe HPCA could have invited the leader of the opposition in Himachal Pradesh as a chief guest for one of the matches.
To be honest, I felt that prices for IPL matches are on the higher side. For Rs 800 one gets a seat in a stand with no cover from the sun and the rain. We must remember the fact that IPL matches in Himachal are not covered under entertainment tax. Despite this the prices are high and organizers should look into this aspect. Tourists may fill up the stands but the matches and Kings XI team will find little support from the locals.
If prices are not enough there are stupid rules which one has to follow in during the matches. You cannot carry inside a bottle of water, but if you want you can take a cup of Cola. You cannot carry a camera inside but click as many picks you want with your mobile camera. There is no re-entry allowed in the stadium. Once you are inside, you better remain inside.
As if the organizers have not made enough money from sale of tickets, there are eatables available on sale outside the stands. But you have to pay double or triple prices for a cup of cola, poorly made burgers and an ice cream brand which sells only in the IPL matches.
After watching 2 games of IPL for exactly 1 innings and 5 overs, the feeling I get is that IPL is more about business, politics and has little to offer to the cricket fans. No doubt even the TRPs are down for this season of the IPL. If the organizers don’t work on the pricing issue and reduce the number of matches, the fans will just get terribly bored of watching so much of cricket.