IPL boss too in the dock

IPL boss too in the dock

Lalit Modi

The unsavoury developments of the last several days involving minister of state for external affairs Shashi Tharoor in the Kochi IPL franchise controversy is bound to hurt Modi’s status as the all-powerful supremo of the Indian Premier League.

Modi hasn't, by accident or by design, been too far removed from controversy. Educated in the United States, the 46-year-old is a passionate, self-driven man who conceptualised the franchise-based cricketing model more than a decade ago.

India’s success in the inaugural World T20 in South Africa in 2007 was just the impetus required for Modi’s IPL dream to materialise. Quickly, the wheels were set in motion and the event became an instant hit with even sections that were not particularly drawn towards the game previously.

Things haven’t, however, always gone swimmingly. In his capacity as Chairman and Commissioner of the IPL, Modi was involved in an avoidable war of words with the Union Government before dramatically shifting IPL II to South Africa.

His handling of the IMG issue — eventually, the management group was forced to settle for a fee Rs 10 crore less than their original demand of Rs 43 crore — won him few friends within the franchises. The BCCI itself wasn’t too enamoured with the unrealistic clauses he had proferred for the aborted first bid for the ninth and tenth teams for IPL IV, Board president Shashank Manohar ticking him off in the governing council meeting where it was decided to put out fresh tenders.

Modi’s propensity to share information with the world through Twitter, his discernible ‘disappointment’ at the Kochi franchise’s successful bid and his public spat with Tharoor have further increased the gulf between him and several key members of the BCCI.

It is unlikely that Modi will be dumped as Chairman and Commissioner, but studied opinion points to a severe curtailing of his powers as the IPL seeks to move away from being a one-man show. The BCCI is particularly unhappy at the interest shown by Revenue and Income Tax authorities in its activities in light of Modi’s assault on the owners of the Kochi franchise, and while he might continue to enjoy the support of Sharad Pawar, the ICC chairman-in-waiting, and a BCCI strongman IS Bindra, it would appear as if this time, he has bitten off more than he can chew.

Modi is also under a cloud after links between his relatives and at least one franchise, the Rajasthan Royals, has been established. It has also come to light that his stepson-in-law is one of the investors in the Mauritius-registered Global Cricket Ventures, which owns the digital and mobile rights of the IPL. There would appear to be a clear case of conflict of interests, though the fact that BCCI secretary N Srinivasan is the owner of one of the teams, the Chennai Super Kings, would suggest there is no ‘conflict of interests’ clause in the IPL constitution.

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