Defiant Modi refuses to quit

Defiant Modi refuses to quit

IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi arrives at the international airport in Mumbai on Tuesday. PTI

On a day of fast-paced developments, the UPA government, through Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Home Minister P Chidambaram, told Agriculture Minister and former BCCI president Sharad Pawar that Modi should be asked to step down. After a meeting the trio held Tuesday morning, Pawar, who has steadfastly backed the IPL chief as the controversy surrounding Tharoor unfolded, conveyed the government’s stand that Modi must be asked to step down to BCCI president Shashank Manohar.

However, Modi, who arrived in Mumbai from Dubai in the evening, put up a brave front. “There is no chance of resigning. I will present all my facts at the IPL governing council (GC) meeting. There is no need for me to step down. Reports of my stepping down is speculation. The GC will take a unanimous decision. All questions regarding the allegations will be answered at the meeting of the GC. I will be presenting the facts. We will take a unanimous decision after the IPL final.”

BCCI sources said after the morning meeting of the three ministers that Modi would be told to put in his papers but would be asked to continue till the finals of the IPL, slated for April 25. According to the plan worked out,  Modi would be replaced by Manohar as IPL commissioner after the April 26 GC meeting passes a resolution to be approved by the BCCI working committee on May 2.

 However, a section of the BCCI is said to be of the view that it was not wise to ask Modi to resign. They are instead in favour of Modi’s wings being clipped and a panel appointed to tale decision while not leaving Modi to be the sole decision maker. There are also reports that Modi is a man who knows too much and can spill many secrets which may be even put the Centre in an embarrassing spot.

Modi, who is said to be in a minority in both the GC and BCCI executive committee, got a shot in the arm as Royal Challengers Bangalore owner Vijay Mallya and Rajasthan Royals’ part-owner Shilpa Shetty came to his support. Mallya, observing that the IPL owed its success to Modi, remarked: “This entire issue has snowballed into an unnecessary storm. As far as I am concerned, I am full of appreciation for what Modi has delivered. If he has issues with the Government, that's his private matter and he needs to deal with it”.

 Modi trigged the entire controversy after tweeting the IPL Kochi franchise's stakeholding pattern, which also brought the cricket board under the Income Tax department's scanner. Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor was shown the door by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as his girl friend Sunanda Pushkar was given ‘sweat equity’ of Rs 74 crore by the Kochi IPL consortium.

On Tuesday, as NCP leaders Pawar and Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel came under the scanner, Pawar’s daughter and MP Supriya Sule and Patel rubbished the charges.

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