New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Gandhinagar is all set to host a cricket and kabaddi league — named the Gandhinagar Loksabha Premier League 370, or GLPL 370, after Article 370 — with a twin aim of encouraging sports among the youth, and connecting them with the BJP.
The Gandhinagar constituency is represented by Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
Harshad Patel, the BJP in-charge of Gandhinagar Lok Sabha constituency, told ThePrint that 1,400 teams have already enrolled under cricket and 400 for kabaddi.
Pradipsinh Vaghela, the party’s state unit general secretary, said Shah is the “favourite figure of Gujarat” and it was him who had invalidated Article 370 to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and hence the BJP decided to name the league after Article 370.
“Yuva ka prem unki (Amit Shah) oor aur zyada badha hai Article 370 hatane ke baad. (The youth’s love towards him has increased all the more after the scrapping of Article 370),” Vaghela said.
Patel said the aim of the league is to connect maximum youth with the BJP and at the same time increase their participation in sports.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also stressed increasing India’s participation in sports. So the purpose of holding this tournament is to encourage the youth to take up any sports activity. To begin with we have started with cricket and kabaddi but we will also have tournaments in athletics too,” he said.
The league will be played between December and January.
More teams to join later
Patel said the idea is to have 2,000 cricket teams at least.
“One booth will function as one team. So far the idea is to have 2,000 teams. There are some Muslim-dominated constituencies so we will see how that pans out. We have our Laghumati morcha (minority unit), which will reach out to these constituencies too,” he added.
Currently, only male participation is allowed with the age limit being 18 years. “We want to motivate first-time voters to participate. The teams will be completely young with the upper limit being 25,” he added.
“We will currently hold the events only in the afternoon and we are thinking of organising something for the girls too,” he said. “This will become a platform where the youth will be able to interact with BJP workers and leaders and understand our party.”
‘Collective decision’ to name league after Article 370
Asked if it was the home minister’s idea to hold the tournament, Patel said a meeting was held where Shah had said that the country has performed well in the Olympics (2020) and there was a need to do something from organisation level.
Asked if the name of the league was also suggested by Shah, Patel called it a “collective decision”.
“The Gandhinagar Lok Sabha which includes 15-20 MLAs, senior organisation members decided that such a name will help convey a political message as well as connect the youth to cricket and the BJP too. We hope that Amit Shah ji will come for the inauguration ceremony,” Patel said.
Even as the idea is to encourage people to join the BJP, Patel said participants don’t necessarily need to be BJP supporters to play.