Cricket, Congress and Controversy: Rahul Gandhi’s ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ gets in trouble in Australia

"Under ICC T20 World Cup Ticket Terms and conditions, banners or clothing displaying political messages are not permitted."

India’s main opposition party Indian National Congress’s former National President Rahul Gandhi is on a Bharat Jodo Yatra to supposedly unite India.

Rahul Gandhi’s Yatra began on 7th September from Kanyakumari and it will pass through 12 states, culminating in Jammu and Kashmir – spanning a distance of nearly 3,500 Km over the course of about 150 days as posted on a webpage created for Bharat Jodo Yatra.

However, interestingly this yatra has created a controversy in ICC T20 World Cup being organised in Australia.

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Enthusiastic Indian Overseas Congress members attended the Melbourne Cricket Ground T20 World Cup match between India and Zimbabwe on 6th November like almost 80,000 other cricket lovers.

However, Indian Overseas Congress members took a ‘political banner’ to support Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra.

Screen Shot of video posted by Indian Overseas Congress members.

They took a short video with the poster which had #Go Team India, Bharat Jodo Yatra and Indian Overseas Congress Australia with Rahul Gandhi’s picture on it.

A lot of people attending the match take posters and banners to the ground however according to ICC T20 world Cup and Melbourne Cricket Ground rules banners and posters with political messages can not be displayed during the match.

A video posted by Indian Overseas Congress members on Facebook.

There are a number of Marshalls at all the gates of the match venue to check and make sure any offensive, political or commercial poster or banner is not displayed during the match.

However, Indian Overseas Congress members managed to take their poster inside the venue.

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The whole poster saga came to light when office bearers of the Indian National Congress posted this video on their social media accounts to boost that #BharatJodoYatra was having a global impact.

What do the ICC T20 World Cup Ticket Terms & Conditions say?

IBC, the LOC and/or any Authorised Person may refuse admission to, or eject from, the Venue at any time without refund to any Ticket Holder who, in the reasonable opinion of IBC, the LOC and/or any Authorised Person.

“Is behaving in any way that is or could reasonably be construed as provocative, discriminatory, offensive, indecent or threatening (whether to the life or safety of himself/herself or any other person(s)), including but not limited to:
the wearing or other display of commercial, political or offensive signage or logos;

As India is seeing a politically charged environment due to Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh state elections, Australian local BJP supporters also swung into action after seeing these social media posts.

Jay Shah is President of Overseas Friends of BJP an organisation that supports India’s Bharatiya Janata Party.

Mr Shah took a dig at Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in his Twitter post.

“This is the difference, Rahul Gandhi’s popularity needs a houseful venue whereas Narendra Modi Ji’s popularity makes the venue houseful. By the way, I have filed an official complaint as the display of political material at MCG violates conditions of entry.”

Mr Shah told The Australia Today, “There are all the other places to do politics and debate, but using a sporting event for promoting a failed politician is just as low as congress can go.”

“I would like to request MCG and T20 World Cup authorities to take strict action against the persons responsible,”

added Mr Shah

The Australia Today reached out to Sydney-based Manoj Sheoran, President of the Indian Overseas Congress Australia.

Mr Sheoran said, “The Poster must have been screened by Police at the venue MCG then only they would have allowed it inside the stadium.”

“As everyone can see, there is no political message on the poster, but only best wishes for Indian Cricket team,”

explained Mr Sheron.

“What I can say is, people who are doing complaints are doing politics as I don’t know what they are afraid of.”

Maxx Abbott is Media & Communications Manager with ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022 Local Organising Committee.

Mr Abbott told The Australia Today, “Action against offenders is at the discretion of venue security on the day, in consultation with ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Local Organising Committee Head of Security.” 

Security checks bags and screens all patrons who attend ICC Men’s T20 World Cup matches. Under our Ticket Terms and conditions (available here), banners or clothing displaying political messages are not permitted. “