Sharad Pawar revealed on Saturday why he is keen to contest against Dr Vijay Patil to retain his chair as the Mumbai Cricket Association president on June 17.
The former Maharashtra chief minister, who is backed by the ruling Bal Mahaddalkar group, said he would have withdrawn his nomination had Patil not demanded to take international and Indian Premier League (IPL) matches to his DY Patil Stadium in Nerul.
Sharad Pawar (right) backed by Bal Mahaddalkar group members Dilip Vengsarkar and Ravi Savant (left) at a city hotel yesterday. Pic/Nimesh Dave
“Probably, I would have not contested if the person, who requested me to withdraw, had never asked for any game allotted to the MCA. Our prime responsibility is to protect the interest of Mumbai Cricket Association,” Pawar told reporters ahead of his first meeting with MCA voters at a Kandivali hotel on Saturday.
Patil made his stance clear as far as hosting matches is concerned. “To conduct international matches at the DY Patil Stadium is not the only motive for which I am contesting. I had started stadium work in 1990 when Sharad Pawar was not even in the MCA. The allegations are untrue. I am contesting for the betterment of cricket, not only for having some matches at DY Patil Stadium. Since 2004, when the stadium was constructed, we have been allotted only one Ranji Trophy match,” Patil told SUNDAY mid-day in response to Pawar’s claims.
Patil also countered Pawar’s second claim that only the Wankhede Stadium and Brabourne Stadium are approved by the International Cricket Council for holding international matches. “How can you say Wankhede and CCI are the only grounds approved by the ICC? We had been allotted the India vs Australia ODI in 2009, which was washed out without a ball being bowled. The DY Patil Stadium is also approved by the ICC,” said Patil.
Pawar said that IPL matches cannot be taken away from the Wankhede Stadium as that would affect MCA’s finances. “If we give away IPL matches (to DY Patil Stadium), MCA would suffer a loss of R2 lakh per match. We have no problem in giving Ranji Trophy and practice matches to other venues,” said Pawar.
‘Nothing has changed’
Pawar last contested an MCA election in 2001 against Ajit Wadekar. The veteran politician sees no difference in his battle with Patil this time as well. “Nothing has changed. I have no complaints against Dr Patil,” said Pawar.
Pawar stressed on the need to develop infrastructure in Mumbai’s eastern suburbs and Thane. He also appealed to Sachin Tendulkar to spare some time for the MCA. “If Sachin has time, we will be happy to have his services as an advisor in MCA. It will be very helpful for budding cricketers,” said Pawar.