Politicians try to steal thunder from Dhoni's Devils
Posted on: 06:30 PM IST Sep 26, 2007
Mumbai: One would have thought that the 15 cricketers who brought India the glory at the Twenty20 World Cup were the heroes being felicitated at the Wankhede Stadium, but a look at the dias would have suggested otherwise.
The front row was filled with BCCI top brass and Maharashtra state ministers with skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni the only Team India member finding a place among the 'elite'.
Also on the front row were BCCI Secretary Niranjan Shah, Vice-Presidents Lalit Modi and Rajeev Shukla and former Board President I S Bindra.
In fact, the whole spectacle seemed like a carefully organised political rally with Board President Sharad Pawar, who is the Union Agriculture Minister and a political heavyweight of the state, playing to the galleries in his short speech as if it was an election rally.
He was clearly trying to take full mileage out of the unexpected victory that Dhoni and his bravehearts achieved at the Wanderers in Johannesburg.
Not to be outdone, Deputy Chief Minister R R Patil gave a speech in Marathi that seemed unusually long and out of place in the setting, with other state politicians also sharing the spotlight.
When his turn to speak came, Dhoni could not help remarking "a lot has been in English and Marathi. Now let me stick to Hindi".
The whole ceremony at the Wankhede Stadium gave an impression that it was only Mumbai and Maharashtra expressing their joy at the triumph and not the whole country.
It seemed in stark contrast to the players' journey from the airport to the stadium when the public outpouring on the streets looked totally genuine and heart-felt.
The plane from South Africa landed at the airport at 8 am and the 30 km-journey in the open top bus took upwards of five hours with the players reaching the stadium more than three hours behind schedule.
Even as one marvelled at the public display of affection directed at the young team, one could not help notice the big hoardings which had a big picture of Pawar over a considerably smaller one of Dhoni holding aloft the trophy, which seemed to aptly reflect BCCI's priorities.