Modi to go to court to stop Monday’s IPL meeting
Officials investigating his alleged financial shenanigans visited Lalit Modi for the second time in less than 24 hours at his hotel in Mumbai. After spending close to six hours with them, Modi left the Four Seasons in his BMW and headed to Mukesh Ambani’s office in Nariman Point. He spent 45 minutes with the owner of the Mumbai
Indians, and later, flew by helicopter to DY Patil stadium to watch the Deccan Chargers take on the Chennai Super-Kings. (Read: Modi questioned about IPL broadcast rights deal)
Clearly, this is not a man who’s ready to give up his fight to survive as the Chairman and Commissioner of the Indian Premier League (IPL). But just in case you need to hear him say it, just rewind to earlier this week when he told jostling reporters that there is “no chance” of him resigning, even though his colleagues say they will force him out. And if its action and not words you want, well, Modi plans to go to court on Friday to stop Monday’s meeting where the IPL Governing Council plans to force him out.
Modi is the protagonist (or the villain, depending on who you talk to) in a cricket fairytale turned horror story. The funding of all team-owners and associates of the IPL is being carefully scrutinized by the government. Modi’s detractors say he has inflicted this inquiry on the world of Indian cricket with a series of careless tweets earlier this month. (Read: Lalit Modi takes on BCCI with e-mails)
The tweets targeted then minister Shashi Tharoor by questioning his support to and involvement in the consortium that won the franchise last month for the new Kochi team. The fallout was swift. Tharoor was forced to resign, and the government ordered a multi-agency inquiry into the IPL. (Read: Shashi Tharoor resigns after Congress says enough)
From proxy ownership by rich and powerful players to illegal foreign funding from tax havens like Mauritius, the investigation could blow the cover off both the IPL, and its elite guard. (Read: Nationwide IPL crackdown, SRK, Preity teams feel the heat)
The validity of Monday’s Governing Council meeting has been challenged by Modi. As Commissioner, he says, it’s up to him to call meetings. He made his point in no uncertain terms in an email to Shashank Manohar, the man who many say will replace him as IPL Chief. Manohar is currently the President of cricket’s finial body in India, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
Modi has threatened to go to court on Friday to stop Monday’s meeting. Manohar, and others on the IPL governing council, say that won’t change their minds.
What Modi has suggested is that the meeting be postponed to give him some more time to prepare his defense. If that’s not acceptable, he says, he will not attend the meeting.
Manohar says Modi can be voted out even if he’s absent. In an interview to NDTV, Mansoon Ali Khan Pataudi, who is also on the governing council, said Modi will only make things worse for himself if he skips the session. Pataudi said it behooves Modi to request an extension in person. (Read & watch:: If Modi skips Monday meet, he’s out)
Modi’s defense strategy, by his own admission, will be anchored on the argument that every decision that he took was sanctioned by the Governing Council. Everyone’s guilty, if crimes were committed. So far, his camp has released emails that show he was turned down when he requested that the stakeholders of all IPL teams be publicly named. (Read: Lalit Modi’s email suggested revealing all IPL stakeholders)
Manohar was among those who rejected Modi’s suggestion, but that, Manohar says, is because it would have violated confidentiality clauses in agreements with team-owners.
Income tax officials meanwhile continued, on Thursday, to visit the offices of IPL team-owners to survey documents of ownership. In Lucknow, on Thursday, the Sahara offices were checked out; Sahara bought the Pune team last month. The headquarters of GMR, which owns the Delhi Daredevils, were also surveyed. On Wednesday, the offices of team-owners in Kolkata, Chandigarh, Hyderabad and Chennai were all frequented by Income Tax officials. (Read: Income Tax inquiries: Sahara surveyed, KKR summoned)
At the same time, Modi was asked in person at the Four Seasons hotel for a copy of the telecast rights’ contract – a deal worth billions of dollars, and one that allegedly allowed Modi a kickback. A few hours before Modi was questioned, the offices of the two companies who hold broadcast rights for the IPL, World Sports Group and Multi Screen Media, were raided. (Read: Telecaster denies any wrong doing in IPL deal)
Sources say the inquiry by tax officials will continue into next week. The goal is to assess income and expenditure of all IPL team-owners. Officials say major sponsors and advertisers of IPL will also be investigated.