Dear BJP, is Modi attending a sports event at Mumbai ground today?

Just a few days ago, the local unit of BJP was frothing at the mouth over how the AIB Roast was allowed to be held at the NSCI grounds, when it is earmarked for sports events only; today, PM Narendra Modi will attend an advocates association’s event at the venue; the party’s explanation for the double standards this one is “culturally intellectual”

Having attained power in the state and the Centre, the BJP seems to have forgotten the lessons against hypocrisy and special treatment it had sought to teach the Congress.

Around 4,000 people had attended the AIB event at the Worli ground on Dec 20
Around 4,000 people had attended the AIB event at the Worli ground on Dec 20

In the wake of the controversy following the AIB Roast, the BJP was the first to approach the BMC last Saturday, asking it to take action against the National Sports Club of India (NSCI) for allowing the event to happen at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel (SVP) stadium in Worli, on the grounds that the lease only permits sports events.

The club has hosted various functions, including award shows and TV events, at the stadium, until the AIB roast controversy erupted. File pic
The club has hosted various functions, including award shows and TV events, at the stadium, until the AIB roast controversy erupted. File pic

In a complaint to the Municipal Commissioner, Mumbai BJP secretary Vivekanand Gupta had said, “From the recitals of the lease deeds as mentioned herein above it is clear that no activities other then sport should be allowed by NSCI.”

Fast forward just one week and the same party sees no problems with an event organised by a lawyers’ association, which will be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, being held at the same venue today because the event is “culturally intellectual” (sic).

Even worse, speaking to mid-day yesterday, the party reiterated its stand against anything but sports events being held at the stadium.

Jaw-dropping
When mid-day approached Gupta, he said, “The stadium is meant only for sports events and no other events can be organised there. My complaint was regarding the same. A commercial event cannot be organised, where they sell tickets and earn money.”

In the same breath, he added, “However, the event on Saturday (which will be attended by Modi) is not a commercial event but a culturally intellectual one. There are exceptions to the rule, and the organisation that is holding the event has done service to the society and it is a 150-year-old organisation.”

The event being held at the stadium today is the closing ceremony of the 150 years celebrations of the Advocates’ Association of Western India. Apart from the PM, the Governor, law minister, chief minister and the chief justice of the Bombay High court will be in attendance. The PM is expected to reach the stadium around 5.30 pm, after wrapping up some events in Pune.

Special rules?
According to NSCI secretary Rakesh Malhotra, Saturday’s event is being held within legal boundaries.

“The PM’s event is scheduled for February 14, and everything is legal. We had sought permission from the BMC for the same and all the permissions are in place.” Rajiv Chavan, the president of Advocates’ Association of Western India (AAWI), said, “Our event is being held legally. Everything is being done with proper permissions.”

In a seeming bid to justify the event being held at the stadium, a member of the association said the President has also visited the NSCI earlier and the event will, apart from PM Modi, have judges, lawyers and other senior members from the legal industry in attendance.

'Very angry'
Some members are upset that the club will remain shut for the whole day today for “security reasons” as per an e-mail sent to them. Viren Shah, an elected council member of the club, said, “We are all proud and we welcome the Prime Minister of India’s visit to our SVP Arena and we also understand that security protocol needs to be followed.

What we do not understand is why the club has to remain shut for the whole day for a few minutes of his visit?” “It’s okay to shut a portion of the club for a few hours for the visit, but not the whole club for the whole day. I am sure our Honourable PM would have also not liked to inconvenience the members of the club.

Members are extremely annoyed with such VVIP movement whereby we lose our privacy in the club. The SVP and the club should have separate entry and exit so that members are not disturbed. We have been expressing our displeasure on our Facebook page over inconvenience being caused to us by VVIPs coming and taking over members’ parking and privacy.”

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