IPL: Lankan players become scapegoat of TN-Kerala politics

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Bangalore, March 27: Sri Lankan cricket players, who are expected to participate in the upcoming matches of Indian Premier League (IPL) starting from April 3, seem to have become scapegoats of Indian politics.

Days after Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa's open statement against the cricket players of the neighbour country, her counterpart in Kerala appeared to have the privilege to host the matches. Chandy on Wednesday, March 27 hinted that Kochi can host some matches in case there is a shift in venue.

Speaking at a meeting, the Kerala CM was quoted as saying, "We welcome the matches. Government would offer full support to Kerala Cricket Association (KCA) if the need arose to conduct matches at Kochi."

To queries about the KCA's request for government support to hold the IPL matches at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi, he replied that the state government would take care of the security aspect and extend other facilities if the matches are shifted from Chennai.

KCA secretary TC Mathew and other office-bearers of the association had met the chief minister last night, seeking his help to host some matches of the IPL's sixth edition that kicks off on April 3.

The KCA office-bearers approached Chandy only after his Tamil Nadu counterpart J Jayalalithaa urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday to ensure that Lankan cricketers are excluded from those IPL matches which are scheduled to be played in Chennai.

Jayalalithaa cited the ongoing protests against Sri Lanka and the dominant sentiment in her state that Delhi must put pressure on Colombo to ensure that it does not ill-treat Lankan Tamils.

All the political parties and organisations in Tamil Nadu are united in demanding strong condemnation of the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime on the issue of war crimes committed by the island nation's military during the civil war that ended in mid-2009.

"In view of the popular antipathy and anger in Tamil Nadu against the actions of the Government of Sri Lanka, the Government of Tamil Nadu is of the view that IPL matches involving Sri Lankan players, umpires and other officials should not be played in Tamil Nadu," Jayalalithaa wrote to the PM.

Meanwhile, former Sri Lankan cricket player Arjuna Ranatunga asked his country's cricketers to boycott the IPL in protest against the Tamil Nadu government's decision to bar them from playing matches in Chennai.

Kerala, Tamil Nadu - the two neighbour states always differ in several issues such as Mullaperiyar dam, water sharing and many other. Now, with the latest controversy over IPL match venues, the two states seem to have started playing politics again.

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