NEW DELHI: The IPL received a shot in the arm after Indian home minister P Chidambaram and South Africa’s touring captain Graeme Smith remained positive about the security conditions in India.
Their comments came in the wake of protests from a couple of right-wing political parties in the state of Maharashtra, who have opposed the participation of Australian and Pakistan players in the league due to India’s troubled diplomatic relations with the two countries.
Leaders of the Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena [both regional parties] have come out strongly in their criticism of attacks on Indian students in Australia, and said they would protest against the participation of Australian players in the IPL by not allowing them to play in Maharashtra.
The opposition to the participation of Pakistani players in the IPL has existed in the aftermath of the Mumbai terror attacks in November 2008, which resulted in a breakdown in relations between the the neighbours.
However, Chidambaran assured the players of complete security during the IPL. “Let Australian players come to India. Let Pakistani players come to India. Let them play in Mumbai and I will guarantee them full security.”
Smith said he has always enjoyed returning to India since his maiden trip nine years ago, and never felt insecure. “From my personal perspective I have been fortunate to come to India a lot of times and I’m going to be hopefully coming back many more. So it is a great opportunity to come here and play on tour and the IPL.”
The South Africans reached Nagpur, the venue for the first Test starting on February 6, on Sunday. Smith acknowledged security was a major issue anywhere around the world. “We want to know we are looked after and so far we have got people who we trust and the Indian security guys have really been great and from that perspective no complaints,” he said.