Mumbai: The Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) Maharashtra unit has appealed to the governing council of the Indian Premier League (IPL) not to hold matches in the state with several regions in the grip of severe drought. Leader of opposition in the state legislative council Vinod Tawade wrote to IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla, stating 65 lakh litres of water would be wasted watering the grounds and pitches at three stadiums: Wankhede in Mumbai, DY Patil in Navi Mumbai and the Sahara stadium in Pune.
"What sense does it make to use many thousand litres of water to maintain the pitch on which cricket matches are played," the BJP leader said, adding, "This water is used in a state seeing the worst drought of the century. It is not justified."
But in an attempt to bowl out the government over the drought, has the BJP run itself out short on facts?
First, according to the IPL website, no matches are to be held at Navi Mumbai this season. So Mr Tawde's figures drop by a third.
Second, if the matches are moved out and we are to go by the BJP's figures, then Rs 5 lakh would be saved on the water. But irrespective of the IPL, watering will continue to maintain the grass and pitch on the grounds.
Third, the IPL is a money churner and the state is expected to earn Rs 20 crores this season. For a government with an empty treasure chest, this is a big amount.
Speaking to reporters in Delhi, Mr Shukla said "IPL matches do not consume so much of water that there will be drought. People in Mumbai should consume less water in their bungalows."
Raj Thackeray's Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) and the Shiv Sena have also objected to IPL matches being played in the city citing the same reasons.
Shiv Sena last week asked owners of IPL teams to contribute Rs 500 crore towards drought relief with party spokesperson Sanjay Raut saying, "Otherwise, permission should not be given to play the matches in the state. If the government does not do so, Shiv Sena will decide what to do next."
Like the opposition, the government too has got caught on the wrong foot. NCP Spokesperson Nawab Malik says that the BJP is raising a non-issue as there is no drought in Mumbai and Pune. However, when self-proclaimed spiritual leader Asaram Bapu used 50,000 litres of water on pre-Holi celebrations in non-drought affected cities like Nagpur and Navi Mumbai, the Maharashtra government banned him from further celebrations.