Cricket, Politics, and the 2019 Indian Premier League

By Dhanu Delphi on March 29, 2019

As a general rule, cricket and politics should stay separate. Despite this, the two overlap in many instances. The 2019 Indian general election begins on 11th April and ends on 19th May, overlapping with the Indian Premier League. In addition to this, Gautam Gambhir, a former Indian cricketer, recently joined the Hindu nationalist BJP party. Finally, tensions are still high between India and Pakistan, which regularly affects the sporting relationship between the two countries.

Where Cricket and Politics Collide

India’s Upcoming General Election and IPL Voting

The IPL and the Indian general election overlap this year. Indians throughout the country have designated voting days according to their locations. Voting days are on 11th, 18th, 23rd, and 29th of April, along with 6th, 12th, and 19th May. Vote counting subsequently takes place on 23rd May, the same day the results come out.

Ravichandran Ashwin commented on the clash between the elections and the IPL. He explained that with cricketers travelling around the country for the IPL, it is difficult to return home to vote. Ashwin said that cricketers in the IPL should be granted permission to vote in whatever city they may be in.

Ashwin may not have commented on the issue, however, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tagged him and other sportspeople. The Twitter message asked these sports personalities to encourage a higher voter turnout at the polls.

After an encouraging Tweet regarding voting, Ashwin sent a second tweet tagging the Prime Minister. It read: “I would also like to request you sir to enable every cricketer playing in the IPL be allowed to cast their votes from whichever place they find themselves at.”

There was somewhat of a backlash after this tweet. Some responded that if this is the case for cricketers, then all citizens should have the same opportunity.

Gautam Gambhir Joins BJP

Last week, former cricket player Gautam Gambhir joined Prime Minister Modi’s party. Gambhir is well-known for his match-winning knocks in two World Cup finals. In addition to these two impressive knocks, the New Delhi top order batsman also captained a team in the IPL. Gambhir’s team won the Indian Premier League twice.

After induction into the BJP, Gambhir commented on why he joined the political party. He explained: “I am joining this party influenced by our prime minister, his vision. I’ve done whatever I could in cricket, and this is a fabulous platform for me to do something really good for this country, and take this party forward, and make this country a better place to live.”

The 37-year-old former cricketer has nine million Twitter followers. It is highly likely that he could make a big difference to PM Modi’s party.

India and Pakistan

Our final example of cricket and politics colliding involves the latest confrontation between the two countries. Following the recent added tension with Pakistan, polls show a rise in the BJPs chances of winning. The Indian cricket team also wore army caps to a recent ODI, leading to a series of complaints from Pakistan cricketers. This took place after a Pakistan group killed paramilitary police in the Kashmir area in February.

There have been suggestions that India forfeit their World Cup matches against Pakistan. Moreover, Gautam Gambhir urged the national team in this direction.