Cheerleaders at Indian cricket matches raised a political controversy

Notwithstanding the glamour quotient brought about in the ongoing IPL cricket matches by the cheerleaders, the Maharashtra government on Thursday said it will not allow the specially hired girls to go on with their "vulgar and obscene" performance during the April 27 league match at Navi Mumbai. Talking to reporters here, minister of state for home Siddharam Mhetre described the cheerleaders and their dancing at the Indian Premier League (IPL) matches as “absolutely obscene”. “We live in India where womanhood is worshiped. How can anything obscene like this can be allowed?” he asked. “The organizers may have invested crores of rupees organizing such matches. But this does not mean that they make semi-nude women dance in front of people," he said. Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, however, did not find anything vulgar about cheerleaders. "What's wrong with cheerleaders? I am also a family person, I do not see anything negative in it," the actor, who owns the Kolkata Knight Riders, said. Earlier in the day the BJP had accused the state government of adopting double standards and wants the dance-bar-ban-fame home minister RR Patil to ‘look into’ the matter.

“We ban dance bars for obscenity, how can we allow such vulgar dance in a cricket field,” asked enraged state BJP president Nitin Gadkari while raising the issue in the state legislative council on Thursday. He was referring to the recent fad introduced by the Indian Premier League’s truncated 20/20 version of cricket. As part of the efforts to sex up the game, the organizers have deployed attractive cheerleaders who dance to music after every big shot crosses the boundary. The cheerleaders have been flown in from the US. But the BJP was not amused. “Maharashtra home minister R R Patil is taking a moral stand on the issue of bar dancers saying it is immoral. Then how can he freely allow such cheerleaders to participate in these matches
with vulgar dance moves? Isn’t this immoral also? And what are they going to do about this? I want R R Patil to respond to this,” Mr Gadkari said. According to him what the cheerleaders do during cricket matches is “ten times more vulgar than what used to happen in dance bars of Mumbai”. Embarrassed by the allegation, Mr Patil was seen looking for cover. The attack also caught him on the backfoot as his boss Sharad Pawar now heads the IPL. “I will investigate the matter and appropriate action will be taken,” he said in an attempt to assuage feelings. Shatrughan Sinha, the former BJP MP, gave a social spin to the whole issue. He wants the IPL organisers to deploy the now jobless bar girls as cheerleaders. Accusing the organisers for making “mockery” of cricket, Mr Sinha felt it is better to give chance to the bar girls who have been rendered unemployed after Maharashtra government shut down dancing in the bars.

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