'Country comes first, money is secondary. And it is the Indian Premier League, not the Chinese Premier League'
Kings XI Punjab co-owner Ness Wadia, on Tuesday, called for a gradual end to Chinese sponsorship in the Indian Premier League amid escalating tensions between the two countries owing to the violent clash in eastern Ladakh earlier this month.
Calls for boycotting Chinese products have intensified after 20 Indian soldiers were killed in the Galwan Valley clash on June 15. The Chinese have so far refused to share details of the casualties they suffered.
The incident prompted the Board of Control for Cricket in India to call a meeting of the IPL Governing Council to review Chinese sponsorship but that meeting is yet to take place. On Monday, India banned 59 Chinese apps.
"We should do it (sever ties with Chinese sponsors in IPL) for the sake of the nation. Country comes first, money is secondary. And it is the Indian Premier League, not the Chinese Premier League. It should lead by example and show the way," Wadia said on Tuesday.
"Yes it would be difficult to find sponsors initially but I am sure there are enough Indian sponsors who can replace them. We must have all the respect for the nation and our government and most importantly for the soldiers who risk their lives for us," said the known Indian businessman.
The Chinese soldiers used stones, nail-studded sticks, iron rods and clubs to carry out a brutal attack on Indian soldiers after they protested the erection of a surveillance post by China on the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control in Galwan.
The incident was the biggest confrontation between the two militaries after their 1967 clashes in Nathu La when India lost around 80 soldiers while the death toll on the Chinese side stood well over 300.
Chinese mobile phone maker Vivo is the IPL title sponsor and it pays the BCCI Rs 440 crore annually for the five-year deal ending in 2022.
Other companies involved in the IPL -- Paytm, Swiggy, Dream 11 -- have Chinese investments. Not just the IPL, the teams too attract Chinese sponsorship.
While Wadia made his stance clear, other teams, including Chennai Super Kings, said they will be happy to go with whatever the government decides.
"It will be tough to replace them initially but if it has to be done for the sake of the nation, we should do it," a CSK source said.
Another team owner said: "Let the government decide first, whatever they decide, we will follow".
However, Wadia said it is not right to await government's directive on the controversial subject as "it is our moral responsibility to stand with the nation at this hour".
"If I was the BCCI president, I would say find me an Indian sponsor for the upcoming season.
"Indian companies need to step up and see the same benefits and opportunities that Chinese companies have seen in the IPL, which is the best T20 league in the world."
Asked about the Chinese sponsorship in IPL teams, Wadia said: "The teams too should be given time to replace their Chinese sponsors. As I said, there are enough Indian companies which can replace them."
Wadia also welcomed the Indian government's decision to ban Chinese apps citing national security.
"If India plays its card right, it can really be the superpower it desires to be," he observed.
"Personally I don't like to buy Chinese products because they are sub-standard. The focus has to be on making Indian and buying Indian. China produces such large volumes and suffocates the world, it has to stop. We should put all our efforts on making India a manufacturing hub."
"I travel around the country a lot. If we don't stop the influx of cheap Chinese goods and are not firm in what we are doing, Indian manufacturing will die," cautioned Wadia.