While the Delhi government wanted to host the felicitation on the ground inside the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium, the BCCI said it could be held at any place but the field of play.
The fourth Test between India and South Africa was marred by a controversy off the field, when the Delhi government called off a function to felicitate former Delhi cricketers and World Cup stars at the last moment on Thursday.
Most of the invited guests were on their way to the stadium when they were informed and had to turn back. This, later turned into an political battle between the Bharatiya Janata Party-led central government and Arvind Kejriwal's state government.
The Aam Admi Party government had planned to honour 10 cricketers, including Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli and former India captains Bishen Singh Bedi and the late Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi.
Apparently, a disagreement involving the government, the BCCI and the Delhi Police over a place to hold the function is what ultimately led to the call off.
While the government wanted to host the event on the ground inside the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium, the BCCI said it could be held at any place but the field of play.
According to the BCCI, cricketing rules do not allow a function like this to be held inside the playing arena in the middle of an international match. The match currently underway at the Kotla stadium is being organised under the aegis of the Delhi High Court with the Delhi administration’s support.
Though the AAP government questioned the BCCI stance, citing a similar function hosted by the BCCI on the ground when it felicitated Virendra Sehwag earlier, the cricket control body said that was held before the start of the match. It maintained that no function can be held on the ground once an international match has begun.
Apart from holding the felicitation ceremony inside the ground, the Aam Admi Party also wanted the function to be broadcast live. The official broadcasters had also allowed them air time from 9:05am to 915am.
There were also demands that Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal be allowed to take a lap of honour inside the ground, which was rejected by the BCCI. Senior officials of the Delhi Police had also expressed their reservations on the proposal, citing security concerns.
Justice Mukul Mudgal, the court-appointed overseer for the Test match, the BCCI and the DDCA officials offered alternative locations just outside the players’ dressing bay area, but they were rejected by the Delhi government.
Mudgal reportedly called Kejriwal on Friday night to resolve the issue, but Kejriwal, it is learned, wanted Mudgal to convince the BCCI to change its decision. When Mudgal told the CM, he was helpless, the government said it was cancelling the event.
The AAP accused BCCI, especially its secretary Anurag Thakur, of deliberately sabotaging the ceremony. The BCCI, on its part, said it had extended all possible cooperation to the state government.
According to Delhi Government standing counsel Rahul Mehra , all necessary permissions for the function had been taken.