Lalit Modi is an angry man or more precisely is an angry man nowadays, especially with a non-bailable warrant issued against him. As a result he wants to fight corruption, fight with the Indian government, in fact, fight with everyone who does not acknowledge how star spangled awesome he is. His angry outbursts have remained one of his defining traits over the years and may explain why the man who was labelled India’s most charismatic sports entrepreneur till a few years ago found himself the midst of a multi-agency probe, his brand equity tarnished, and that old moniker of black sheep returning to haunt him and how. Lalit Modi reminds a lot of people of a wannabe bond villain.
He has all the trappings whether it be holidays in the same casino where Casino Royale was shot or having his own brand of hand-rolled cigarettes called LKM (a nifty acronym for his own name. Most recently he has launched a ‘movement’ called fightcorruption.org, which is ironic coming from a man who is accused of major corruption charges himself. Dressed in a dapper pink tie the website has him in a colossal life-size image of himself urging billions to join the moment. In what is being touted as a major setback to controversial former IPL chairman Lalit Modi but really is no setback of any significance, a Mumbai Special Court on has issued a non-bailable arrest warrant against him for alleged involvement in a money-laundering case registered by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
The investigative agency moved the special Prevention of Money Laundering Act - PMLA court in Mumbai seeking a non-bailable warrant after Modi did not respond to the summons sent to him. ED’s lawyer Hiten Venegoankar claimed Lalit Modi was not available in India and had not complied with the summonses issued to him since 2009. Experts, however, have duly pointed out that extradition of Lalit Modi would be a long drawn battle. This despite the reality that the Parliament was facing a logjam since the beginning of the ongoing Monsoon session over the LalitGate issue. The Opposition had been demanding the resignation of Foreign Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje for being alleged allies of Lalit Modi.
This demand remains a futile dream of the Opposition as the Narendra Modi government shows no signs of budging or relenting. Some of the third front parties have been trying to act as a bridge between the government and main Opposition to end the logjam. Moreover, the Centre has still not appealed against the Delhi High Court judgment, which restored Modi’s passport after it was initially revoked by the previous government.
While Raje was charged with being a business partner of former IPL boss, Swaraj was charged with facilitating travel papers for Lalit Modi from England to Portugal. The Foreign Minister’s husband Swaraj Kaushal had been an attorney for Lalit Modi and so had been their daughter Bansuri. The case against Modi was related to the 2008 deal between World Sports Group and Multi Screen Media for television rights of Indian Premier League worth Rs 425 crore. Meanwhile, as soon as the Lok Sabha met several Opposition parties including the Samajwadi Party, NCP and RJD members demanded revocation of suspension of 25 Congress members.
The theatre of the absurd continued and Tariq Anwar, Supriya Sule, Jai Prakash Narayan Yadav and Dharmendra Yadav raised the suspension issue bogey and shouted slogans. However, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan did not heed to their demand. Later, all the members staged a walkout from the House. It is safe to say the Parliament has become a circus which is wasting precious taxpayer money. And all for what? Over a man who is currently unwinding and relaxing in Malta while taunting the Indian authorities? If Lalit Modi were to ever play a Bond villain he would make a good one. The saga of Lalit Modi is not yet over.