Even though plans are afoot to ban the former Indian Premier League (IPL) commissioner Lalit Modi for life from the Board for Control of Cricket in India (BBCI), the measure is simply inadequate an answer for all of Modi’s transgressions and financial irregularities that were committed during the initial years of the uber glamorous cricket tournament. While the exhaustive report, prepared by BCCI disciplinary committee comprising Jyotiraditya Scindia and Arun Jaitley and discussed at the Working Committee meeting in Kolkata on Sunday, claims that Modi is allegedly guilty of bid rigging and adding unreasonable clauses in the tender draft to buy two new teams to favour two companies. Even though the report puts Modi in the dock for allegedly not disclosing that his family members had stake in the company that purchased rights for the IPL website, using arm-twisting strategy against the Kochi franchise, in addition to try and attempting to float a rival league in England, thereby directly threatening IPL’s survival, the charges are not comprehensive enough and do not account for several of his misdeeds that were carried out during the first two editions of the grand sporting tournament. Hence, BCCI’s probable decision, that will emerge on 25 September in Chennai through a special general body meeting, to impose a life ban on Lalit Modi, seems perfunctory and mainly to keep him out of the circuit that is now dominated by the loyalists of N Srinivasan, the re-crowned king of the cricketing board. And despite the requirement of having a two-third majority to impose the life ban, BCCI is like to sail through the decision, which means the resolution is a tactical choice and a product of a rigorous self-reflection on the part of the tainted organisational body.
Modi was the IPL chairman-cum-commissioner during the first three editions but was suspended in the wake of emerging incriminating evidences against him after the 2010 closing ceremony, that suggested financial irregularities in the execution of the league as well as during the auction of two new teams before the third edition. In fact, the suspension of Lalit Modi is a curious case of ganging up against an overambitious showman, who had come to change the rules of the game, the expectations from the sport, and define the aspirations of a new globalising India. However, Lalit Modi’s fall was also equally dramatic, with political and industrial heavyweights such as Jyotiraditya Scindi, Arun Jaitley and N Srinivasan coming together to oust the now disgraced commissioner, whose brainchild was the T-20 league, an explosive cocktail of quick overs, stupendous gamesmanship and heady glamour from Bollywood icons. But the vision aside, it must be remembered that Modi was fundamentally responsible for bringing in the element of rampant corruption into cricket, turning the league into a money-minting machine for the team owners and star players of the sport. Clearly, the report, in which Arun Jaitley looked at the legal aspect of Modi’s indiscretions and Scindia scanned the charges of impropriety against him, is not targeting the former IPL commissioner for not discharging his functions with honesty, but because keeping Modi out suits the current kingpin, N Srinivasan, who is himself neck-deep in crisis with his own son-in-law previously accused of spot-fixing in the fifth and sixth editions of the league. So, even though Lalit Modi must be brought to book for his crimes and fraudulence, the resounding irony that the SGM to decide his ouster might be chaired by his biggest rival, N Srinivasan, cannot be missed.