'Our people are crazy about cricket, but they are more crazy about their country, and their armed forces.'
'To the people of India, there is nothing that is above the nation, not even cricket.'
When the Board of Control for Cricket in India decided to go ahead with Chinese mobile company VIVO as the title sponsors for this year's Indian Premier League despite the killing of 20 soldiers in a fierce clash with Chinese troops in the Galwan Valley on June 15/16 and the continuing military stand-off in Ladakh, it shocked cricket lovers.
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-affiliated Swadeshi Jaagran Manch attacked the BCCI over the decision and called on all Indians to boycott the IPL which will be staged in the UAE next month.
'When the whole world is boycotting China, IPL is sheltering them', declared Swadeshi Jaagran Manch Co-Convenor Professor Ashwani Mahajan.
On Tuesday, August 4, VIVO pulled out of the IPL.
"Indians are not saying they do not want to see the IPL; they just do not want to see the IPL if VIVO is the sponsor," Professor Mahajan tells Rediff.com's Shobha Warrier.
Vivo pulled out of the IPL, not the BCCI asked them to leave...
Nobody knows what happened within the four walls of the room. Whether VIVO pulled out or the BCCI asked them to pull out, the fact remains because of popular pressure that this happened.
As the person who started this campaign, are you satisfied?
It is not just satisfaction. The fact is the BCCI had gone against public opinion, they had gone against the nation's mood.
Two days ago, when I tweeted for the first time about this, they (BCCI made it very clear that VIVO was going to be with them. After a day, they said that VIVO had withdrawn.
We need to understand what has transpired in this 36 hours, or less than 36 hours.
Why they had to change their decision was because of the kind of response from the people of this country.
Every FM channel, every TV channel was discussing who should sponsor the IPL. The masses discussing such an issue happens very rarely.
It means the appeal by the Swadeshi Jaagran Manch was very well accepted by the masses.
VIVO said that public sentiment played a major role in it taking such a decision.
They are trying to make VIVO a hero in this case, which it is not.
They (the BCCI were running the BCCI like a business. They realised that if they went ahead with VIVO, they would not get any revenue from TV, and even other advertising revenue too would be gone. They are already holding the event in some other country.
If people of India are not going to see the IPL, nobody else is going to.
Indians are not saying they do not want to see the IPL; they just do not want to see the IPL if VIVO is the sponsor.
Even today, the images of VIVO on the T shirts of cricketers are haunting them.
You had said, when the whole world is boycotting China, IPL is sheltering them.. Quite strong words..
Yes, I had no other words to express their decision then.
It was not that this was a sudden decision; they had discussed it. The statement from the BCCI had said they had discussed the whole issue and came to the decision to have VIVO as the sponsor. They said because they had taken money from the Chinese sponsor, it would be a huge loss if they ended it now.
My question to them was: What about the loss of ordinary citizens who were ready to throw away their TVs and mobile phones and pay more for a non-Chinese TV and mobile phone? Were they not incurring losses?
When the country was ready to pay more for infrastructure projects, were we not incurring losses?
When everybody was sacrificing, what was the big deal about the BCCI?
Were you shocked when the cash-rich BCCI decided to go ahead with VIVO for IPL?
It was shocking and surprising for us to read the news. Why it was shocking was, when the whole nation was up in arms against the Chinese and Chinese products, they were going ahead with VIVO.
After the way the Chinese have treated our economy, the way they have treated our soldiers, the way they have acted so irresponsibly on the pandemic and its spread, the way they have been subjugating the world into a debt trap, the way they are controlling the infrastructure, the way they are impacting global peace, Indians have every reason to boycott Chinese goods, Chinese investments and keeping Chinese companies at bay from infrastructure projects.
Like the Opposition said, do you feel the BCCI decision exposed the double face of the government and the BJP?
The BCCI Secretary Jay Shah is Home Minister Amit Shah's son and the BCCI Treasurer Arun Dhumal is the Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur's brother/
I don't think so. Because in the last three years, the government has been trying its level best to control the goods coming from China by imposing higher tariffs especially electronics items and mobile phones.
The campaign against China accentuated in the last three months, and the government came out openly against China saying, FDI from any corner of the world was welcome except from China.
We were stopping Chinese goods at the border itself, and checking each and every item.
That was why the Swadeshi Jaagran Manch was surprised and shocked by the BCCI decision.
It made sense when the Swadeshi Jaagran Manch opposed the decision because we had no representation in the BCCI, but it did not make sense when the Opposition made a fuss as many prominent leaders of various political parties were associated with the BCCI. I am not talking about this party or that party.
The fact is the BCCI has the character of a business. It is quite evident that they are running the BCCI like a business unit. It is also a fact that people from many political parties are running this business house.
The BCCI argument was that the IPL had a 5-year deal with VIVO worth Rs 2,199 crores.
Many businessmen in India who had investments from China also argued that they had business deals with China which could not be broken despite the fact that people of India have been boycotting Chinese products for the last 3-4 years.
We heard the same argument from the BCCI too. That's why I said, the BCCI had the character of a business.
The Swadeshi Jaagran Manch came out with a clear viewpoint that running the nation is not business. We felt the BCCI's business deals were against the mood of the nation, it was against the security concerns of the nation so we asked the BCCI to cancel the deal.
Were you disappointed with the government?
There was no question of me getting disappointed with the government. We are much more disappointed with the previous regimes in which the Chinese imports increased 3,000 percent. So, they don't have any face to talk about China or anti-China.
I am happy about the measures taken by this government in the last three years, especially in the last three months against China. They are in tune with what we have been saying.
When you asked the people of India to boycott the IPL, did you expect a cricket-crazy nation like India boycotting the IPL?
I knew people were very sensitive about the security concerns of the nation. When we started the boycott China campaign in 2017, some people listened to us, and many people said, they would not.
Today, I don't see a single person saying that he will buy a Chinese product.
Yes, our people are crazy about cricket, but they are more crazy about their country, and their armed forces.
To the people of India, there is nothing that is above the nation, not even cricket.
VIVO said it would be back next year. It means the withdrawal is till the public sentiment dies down..
This is what you call dishonesty. They are waiting for public sentiment to die down.
They should understand that people of this country are not fools. People know what they (China) did in 1962 and also in 2020. They know what they have done to our economy, and what they have done to the world.
It is childish on the part of both the BCCI and VIVO to say that they will be back next year. People are not going to forget any of this.
Public memory is short...
When people realise that BCCI and VIVO are playing with our short memory, they will definitely remember this. They are not going to forget.
That's why I said, 'abhi nahin, kabhi nahin'... Not this year... never...