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Gasp! Delhi elite must now actually pay for tickets as Kejriwal ends 'free pass' culture

Delhi’s infamous greed for free passes is about to be curtailed soon, thanks to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s new directive.

Taking a stern view of Delhi's 'free pass' culture when it comes to any high profile event like the IPL matches at Feroz Shah Kotla stadium, the CM has issued directive to officials not to entertain any requests regarding passes from his Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) ministers, MPs and MLAs.

He has further directed that officials who get any such requests should immediately bring them to his notice.

 Gasp! Delhi elite must now actually pay for tickets as Kejriwal ends free pass culture

Reuters

According to government sources, Kejriwal has made it clear that if anyone is interested in watching any event, including an IPL match, one must buy a ticket and watch it. The Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) has confirmed the directive.

This hunger for free passes for events is not just restricted to IPL cricket matches. There have been demands for other major events like the India International Trade Fair at Pragati Maidan, the annual theatre festival of the National School of Drama (NSD) and even a Fashion Week.

The so-called ‘connoisseurs’ of these events comprising bureaucrats and even the who’s who of the city can easily afford tickets, but just don’t feel like spending money.

Former editor, Marie Claire, Neena Haridas said, “People not only want passes, but they demand passes for nothing less than the front row. Anything below that is an insult as they think you cannot even arrange passes. One understands if there is a request for a pass or two, but we have faced demands for 14-15 passes. Moreover, people demand passes for any event that requires passes, irrespective of whether they have any interest or knowledge about it."

She added that the passes could be for "book reading, plays, fashion shows, concerts. I think people demand passes because there's a lot that comes with it. They get to network with people who they would otherwise never get to interact with. These networking agents are generally the most boisterous of all the invitees at the do, getting pictures clicked with people and appearing in newspapers/magazines."

An official with the IPL administration on condition of anonymity said, “It’s very difficult to deal with the demand for free passes. They are usually from bureaucrats, government officials and the big people in Delhi. I hope people remember how free passes distributed during the Commonwealth Games led to genuine sports enthusiasts being deprived of tickets, and worse still, stadia going empty as pass collectors had not honored the privilege.”

According to sources, instances of requests for free passes for the current season’s IPL match recently came to Kejriwal’s notice, after which he issued the directive.

“Usually, the MLAs or senior bureaucrats ask the Excise, VAT or Labour department officers to use their official power to procure passes. In lieu, the organizers who give free passes to these officials expect favours in return. The CM wants to end this system,” a source said.

The ‘free pass’ culture in the national capital known for its ‘power lobbies’, adversely affects the sale of tickets of plays and cultural shows, as a large number of viewers avoid buying tickets that are even priced as low as Rs 20.

“Unlike, in Kolkata and Mumbai, where theatre lovers buy tickets to watch plays, in Delhi people demand free passes. This has badly affected Delhi theatre’s financial health,” lamented Anup Mishra, a theatre artiste with the NSD repertoire.

During India International Trade Fair, its organizer -- India Trade Promotion Organization (ITPO) faces a large number of requests for free passes from all sectors.

“Throughout the trade fair period, we have to keep supplying bunch of passes every day. It becomes a headache, as keeping with requests almost from all sectors including high profile visitors sometimes become difficult. If, the CM wants to end this free pass culture, it’s a welcome step,” an ITPO official said.

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Updated Date: May 05, 2015 20:56:54 IST