Firstpost’s report on the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) giving away 250 free passes for the ICC T20 World Cup Semi Finals to Maharashtra Chief Secretary Swadheen Kshatriya dominated the proceedings at both the state legislative council and assembly on Thursday.
Congress MLC Sanjay Dutt raised the issue in the upper house asking where the free passes are and who its beneficiaries are.
However, Kshatriya denied in the house that his office received 250 free passes for the match. When Firstpost Bureau Chief Sanjay Sawant showed him the copy of the letter, which clearly mentions that 250 free passes of the match were sent to Kshatriya, the chief secretary quickly denied the allegations and said that the letter and the free passes for the match were for Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
Clearing the air on the issue, Sports Minister Vinod Tawde categorically said that Kshatriya’s department has not received 250 passes rather only 5 passes. Giving a break-up of the passes, Tawde said, “Of the 250 passes, the Chief Minister’s office received 15; Opposition received 8; sports department received 15, all Minister of States received 2 each; other ministers 2 each; all secretaries, including principal sectary 2 each and Chief Secretary’s office received 5 passes.”
In the Maharashtra Assembly, Congress MLA Nitesh Rane too raised the issue. In response, Maharashtra assembly speaker Haribhau Bagade has said that he will investigate into the matter and make a statement in the House.
However, Firstpost has a copy of the letter, which clearly mentions that 250 free passes of the match were sent to Maharashtra Chief Secretary Swadheen Kshatriya.
Reacting to the controversy, MCA vice-president Ashish Shelar said, “There is nothing wrong with what has happened in this case. Pursuant to a contract between the sports department and the MCA, passes are supposed to be sent to the sports department. However, earlier, it used to be sent to the chief secretary’s office. What has happened now is the correct practice.”
The demand for tickets is as usual maddening and is expected only to soar higher. As soon as India sealed their spot at the World T20 semi-finals, the MCA office was bombarded with requests for tickets. People are expected to fly into Mumbai for the match from all around the world. While some have managed to bag tickets, others have arrived only with a flicker of hope.
“We are four and we follow the Indian team everywhere,” said a fan at the Wankhede Stadium and added, “But we have only three tickets and we’re looking for one more so that none of us miss the match.”