Even as the debate rages on Test cricket’s dying popularity, the scenes at the Narendra Modi Stadium will cast a long, dark shadow on the sport’s most revered format. Fans eagerly waiting to throng the stadium on the first day of the fourth Test between India and Australia were left in the cold.
The BJP has bought 80,000 of the first-day tickets, shelling out Rs 1.97 crores, the Vibes of India has learnt. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese are scheduled to watch the first day.
This is the first time that 80% of stadium tickets have been reserved for one body. It reflects poorly on India, the undisputed powerhouse of the sport, expected to set exemplary standards to draw in spectators.
BJP MLA Manu Patel told VOI that 12 buses and 20 four-wheelers were reserved for workers from his constituency. Such princely generosities were extended to other MLAs too. Udhna MLA Vivek Patel said workers would get the tickets in the stadium.
Former Leader of Opposition of Gujarat Congress and senior MLA from Porbandar, Arjun Modhwadia, expressed strong displeasure over the way politics permeated sport. He demanded an inquiry on “how such a large number of tickets for a match was given to one organisation.” “If cricket lovers are not on the ground, it is not good for the players either,” he said.
The Gujarat Cricket Association (GCA) ducked the question, saying BookMyShow was responsible for the sales of tickets. BookMyShow declined to comment citing security reasons. Information on tickets is usually available on the website.
VOI tried contacting Gujarat Sports Minister Harsh Sanghavi but his phone was unreachable.
Gujarat BJP’s co-media coordinator Zubin Ashra told VOI that 60% of the ticket distribution work had been completed and the Narendra Modi Stadium would look world-class. Is that even a hollow consolation, given the way spectators were humiliated?