Modi- the fallen horse of BCCI

Updated: Apr 28, 2010, 11:54 AM IST

Ritesh K Srivastava

Lalit Modi, the man who has been in the eye of a political storm over allegations of financial irregularities, finally paid a heavy price for his aggressive behaviour and his one-upmanship.

The Indian Premiere League (IPL) commissioner and BCCI vice president irked one and all with his ‘larger than life’ presence on and off the field. His cockiness with the media and flowing arrogance added to the fuel. His ‘recession proof’ venture is turning out to be quite a dirt bag.

Even with the BCCI suspending Modi for a period of six months over murkier IPL deals, and appointing a three-member panel to manage the affairs of what has become cricket’s biggest money-spinner, all eyes are now set on Modi’s next move.

Since the sordid IPL saga provided juicy stories for national media, speculations are rife that Modi will bring to fore the still untold and well-kept secrets about the inappropriate financial transactions related to the IPL deals.

The BCCI’s axing of Modi has fuelled rumours that the fallen cricket ‘Czar’ will hit hard and initiate a legal battle against the apex cricket board.

The insiders now believe that with a lot still at stake, the UPA government and the BCCI both would not like to stir the hornet’s nest further, as it would spell more troubles for them in the days to come.

Modi’s six-month suspension is also indicative of the fact that the cricket board is not seriously interested in exposing the wrong doings in the IPL deals, and wants to suppress the controversy by buying more time for a cover up.

At the moment, Modi is also tight-lipped as to whether he will reveal the truth and expose the alleged politician-businessmen nexus involved into the dirtier IPL business.

But with the UPA chief and Prime Minister himself taking a serious note of the scandal and seeking a detailed report into the entire mess coupled with the I-T raids, the worst-ever cricket controversy is sure to grab more eyeballs in future.

However, controversies apart, there is no one denying the fact that Modi will always be credited for catapulting the game of cricket to a whole new level.

Controversy`s favourite child, Modi’s rise on the horizon of cricket, his hold over the game and his fall from grace has all been very spectacular.

Modi, who became the youngest BCCI vice president in 2005, has received compliments and condemnation both in equal measures. He earned adulation by turning the Indian Premiere League- his brain child- into BCCI’s chief cash cow within three years of its inception.

During a decade-long stint with the cricket in India, Modi also made numerous enemies who were not comfortable with his brash style of functioning and his one-upmanship.

Modi has often been ridiculed for not getting along well with his colleagues in BCCI and those who failed to give him desired favours. All this probably led to his unceremonious fall from the grace and the cricket manager was finally kicked out of his vast empire.

The 46-year-old was just another businessman before becoming arguably the most powerful figure in Indian cricket with the splendid success of IPL T20 league.

However, a glimpse into his lesser-known past clearly reveals that he surely has had an eventful life.

The 46-year-old scion of a rich north Indian business family was once arrested for drug-trafficking and assault in the United States.

His early association with cricket was not much known until five years ago. He shot to fame in 2005 when he joined hands with political heavyweight Sharad Pawar in a bitter but successful campaign to unseat Jagmohan Dalmiya and end his two-decade rule at the BCCI.

Modi was duly rewarded for his ‘help’ with his election as the youngest vice-president of the world’s richest cricket club whose assets were then worth an estimated 50 million dollars.

Modi started a rat-race among country’s prominent businessmen, who saw a huge investment potential in IPL in a bid to earn billions in short time.

The much-reported auction of IPL’s eight franchisees featuring the world`s top cricketers owned by leading businessmen and celebrities from Bollywood changed the landscape of what was once a leisurely sport.

A highly ambitious Modi treated IPL like his personal territory and attracted big business houses who tumbled over each other to join the party. After tasting success in the first two editions of the IPL tournament, Modi famously boasted that the IPL was "the only recession-free venture" as its brand value rose to billions of dollars.

Modi came under government radar for amassing huge wealth within a span of just four years after a trail of failed ventures and defaults. His lavish lifestyle, his fleet of Mercedes and BMW cars, his private jet and a yacht which he acquired in the past three-four years, the manner in which he conducted the IPL auctions, the share-holding patterns of the franchisees all gave a solid base to the I-T officials to possibly book him under betting and money laundering charges.

Modi’s bad phase perhaps started in 2009, when he took on Union Home Minister P Chidambaram, who had asked him to postpone the IPL tournament in view of General Elections.

The shifting of IPL venue outside India sent wrong signals that the country was an unsafe venue for mega sporting events.

Modi-Tharoor episode further antagonised the government, which had to sack its Thiruvanatapuram MP under extreme opposition pressure.

With demands for a deeper probe into the murky IPL business and transparency calls from several quarters, an embarrassed BCCI decided that Modi could be dispensed with from even his own billion-dollar baby.

Only time will tell whether Modi and his white-collar businessmen and politician friends were involved into secret ownerships and sweetheart IPL deals, but till then, the flamboyant businessman will be blamed for his own decline.