The rise and rise of Lalit Modi before the big fall

The rise and rise of Lalit Modi before the big fall

Modi was suspended late last night barely moments after the IPL final game's presentation ceremony, bringing an unceremonious end to his stint as the IPL Chairman and Commisioner.

The man, who became the youngest BCCI vice President in 2005, was known for his brash style of functioning that often rubbed people the wrong way and probably hastened his fall once damning revelations of financial irregularities in the IPL came to fore.

The 46-year-old was just another businessman before becoming arguably the most influential authority in Indian cricket with his brain child, the Indian Premier League, that became a cash cow for the BCCI within three years of its inception.

But one look at his past before he became the all-powerful IPL Chairman and Commissioner is enough to know that Modi led an eventful life.

Even that would be an understatement considering that his first brush with controversy came as early as in college when he was arrested for alleged drug peddling while studying at the Duke University in the United States in 1985.

Once he returned to India, Modi tried his hands at many businesses before entering the business of cricket.

In his many attempts to enter the BCCI, Modi finally succeeded when in 2004, allegedly under the patronage of the then Chief Minister Vasundhra Raje, he became the Rajasthan Cricket Association chief.

It is alleged Raje's government altered the Sports Act to help Modi's RCA election, held for the first time in 40 years.

Modi's win bruised many an egos, and the man who was hurting the most was incumbent Kishore Rungta. Rungta accused Modi of fraud and impersonation.

But for all the legal rumblings that followed, there was no looking back for Modi as he became the BCCI vice-President the next year.

He was by Sharad Pawar's side when he overthrew Jagmohan Dalmiya as the BCCI President. The loyalty earned Modi the firm backing of the heavyweight politician, who was among the few who backed him openly in the current drama.

Modi rose up the ranks in BCCI before flooring the Board with the IPL. He got in top corporates and Bollywood stars to finance a concept that was a winner even before the first ball was bowled in 2008.

With its mix of Bollywood and cricket, the two national obsessions in India, IPL struck a chord almost instantly with the fans, who thronged the stadiums to watch the world's best cricketers competing for city-based franchises.

There were murmurs of Modi having silent stakes in Kolkata Knight Riders, Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab but nothing came out of them in the inaugural year.

The first season was a massive hit and as eager fans got ready for the second edition, the IPL and its chief was hit by its first major controversy.

With the dates of the event coinciding with the general elections in the country, it was threatening to be a security nightmare for the government, which promptly asked the IPL to adjust dates accordingly.

But the ever-so-brash Modi was in no mood to listen. He took on the country's Home Minister and shifted the tournament to South Africa.

Now there is suspicion that many of those matches might have been fixed and Modi himself had a role to play.

But the mother of all scandals erupted during the third edition that was preceded by bidding for two new teams for next season.

Before the bids, Modi had suffered his first major setback since the stupendous rise, losing the RCA elections amid much drama.

The bids for the new IPL teams were initially cancelled as the BCCI found the conditions set by Modi to be too stiff and when they did happen, there was an unlikely winner in Kochi.

The virtually unknown Rendezvous Sports World Group pipped the likes of Adani Group and Videocon to clinch the deal.

But the whole affair snowballed into a devastating controversy when Modi revealed the team's ownership pattern.

All hell broke loose when it emerged that union minister Shashi Tharoor's close friend Sunanda Pushkar had been given a sweat equity worth Rs 70 crore in the team.

Tharoor resigned as a result and the nationwide IT raids on IPL and its franchisees' offices revealed murky details of financial dealings and kickbacks that allegedly Modi got.

BCCI called the IPL Governing council meeting to discuss all the issues but Modi termed it as illegal and said he would not attend any unauthorised meeting.

Later, he changed his mind and decided to attend and chair the Council meeting, but the BCCI chose to suspend him for his "individual misdemeanours".