Kerala Sports Minister V Abdurahiman’s adverse remarks on entertainment tax ahead of the India-Sri Lanka ODI in Thiruvananthapuram may have played a part in the low turnout at the Greenfield Stadium Sunday, according to Kerala Cricket Association.
Amid criticism from various quarters that ticket rates for the ODI were exorbitant, Abdurahiman had sparked off a controversy by saying that those who cannot afford it need not go to watch the match.
“What is the need for reducing the tax? The demand is that the country is witnessing the phenomenon of price rise so that tax should be reduced. Those who are starving need not go to watch the match,” the minister had said. When the minister’s statement had created controversy, the government said the entertainment tax was actually reduced from a higher rate to 12 per cent.
According to KCA officials, only 7,201 tickets were sold for the match. Less than 20,000 people, including those with complimentary tickets, watched the match in the stadium which has a capacity of 42,000. All the previous international matches in the stadium were sold-out affairs.
“The less participation of people is a matter of concern. There are multiple reasons for this. Pongal festival, Makaravilakku and CBSE board examination are all reasons for this,” KCA president Jayesh George told the media. He added that the minister’s statement was a setback.
“The minister commented without really understanding how the Kerala Cricket Association works and how it hosts the matches. The low turnout is a setback to our hopes of hosting a World Cup match. The other state associations might use this opportunity and stake a claim for becoming a World Cup venue,” George said.
According to KCA officials, the ticket rates for the ODI were Rs 1,300 and Rs 2,600, which included 12 per cent entertainment tax and Goods and Services Tax (GST). These rates were, in fact, lower than the ones for the India-South Africa T20I held at the venue last year. Even though only 5 per cent entertainment tax was levied back then, the tickets were priced higher and sold at Rs 1,500, Rs 2,750 and Rs 6,000, including the tax and the GST.
“There was a perception being created that the ticket rates for the ODI were exorbitantly high, which was not true at all. In fact, when the rates were much higher last time for the T20I, all the tickets were sold out. Even in this series, in Guwahati, tickets were being sold for rates as high as Rs 6,000. Kolkata had cheaper tickets but the Bengal Cricket Association can afford to do that because it gets regular international and IPL games,” said KCA secretary Vinod Kumar.
Congress MP from Thiruvananthapuram Shashi Tharoor Sunday said irrespective of what minister Abdurahiman said people should have turned up for the match. He posted a series of tweets Monday saying his comments had been misrepresented by some.
“It appears that my statement yesterday regretting the poor attendance at the third India-SriLanka ODI, as a result of the social media boycott urged by fans enraged by the insensitive remarks of the Kerala Sports Minister, has been misrepresented by some,” Tharoor wrote on Twitter.
“Boycotts are a democratic right, but they should target the person against whom the boycotters are protesting. I have nothing against those who were understandably outraged by the Minister’s callous comment that those who can’t afford to buy a ticket need not attend the match,” he added.
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