IPL supporters in a recent TV programme went to the extent of suggesting that the elections should be postponed if necessary if security cannot be provided to both. Their argument is India’s security image is at stake in Western eyes which may equate us with Pakistan and Afghanistan. Conducting the IPL as scheduled is a symbol of our national resolve not to bow before terrorism. Even if the entire security forces available were deployed for the elections, there is no guarantee that no untoward incident will take place during elections. Did we stop our normal activities because of the 26/11 and the Lahore incidents ? Why then this anxiety about the IPL? Our security competence is superior to Pakistan’s and with sufficient gaps between the polling process and the IPL matches, adequate security can be arranged for both. The venues can be confined to the States confident of handling the IPL and elections together. The IPL will boost the economy.

Counter arguments

Image depends not on bravado but results. Taking avoidable risks by striking a pose will be seen not as strength but immaturity. Any failure would damage our image even more. There is no guarantee about the future in this world. But, other things being equal, deploying 100 security persons reduces the risk of something going wrong compared to deploying only 10. If nothing can be guaranteed, it should make us not reckless but extra careful.

Security implications of a theatre or a shop are vastly different from a cricket match with thirty or forty thousand spectators and several foreign players participating. Relative superiority in security matters is irrelevant as terrorism has occurred even in high security countries. There is no terrorism-proof country and no precaution can ever be considered sufficient. Should something go wrong, the IPL would surely blame the government for inadequate security. This can neither be proved nor disproved. But, IPL at the cost of secure elections is certainly not the best economic stimulus!

Elections are no routine matter to be postponed at the drop of a hat and have to be completed according to a tight Constitutional schedule, keeping in mind the expiry of the life of the present legislatures and climatic conditions. IPL can, however, be postponed without any Constitutional implications or affecting the public interest or polity. No responsible Government can ask the organisers to make their own security arrangements.

Plausible suggestions

As the IPL organisers are capable of influencing the political executive, the assessment of the forces necessary for the fully satisfactory conduct of elections should be by the Election Commission and forces earmarked and deployed accordingly. If at all any surplus forces are left, these could be deployed for the IPL if the government considers it adequate. If, however, government has the slightest doubt in the matter, the IPL organisers should postpone their matches until after the elections. General elections are a hundred percent public matter, a Constitutional obligation and a pillar of our democratic polity. It is said, “cricket is almost a religion in India and that its devotees should not be disappointed.” If so, like all other religions, it should be kept strictly out of all administrative decisions.