In a slew of tweets on Monday, embattled former Indian Premier League chairman Lalit Modi went on a rampaging offensive against politicians from both the current ruling establishment to the previous United Progressive Alliance government. His scathing tweets, however, were not merely reserved for politicians. They included both media barons and Indian cricket administration officials alike. It is safe to say that Modi has gone off the chain and spared no one. “Let me remind everyone what I said. In times of war, there are no winners. Lots of collateral damage and I said one thing everyone loses,” Modi said in one of his tweets.
The warning signs are there for all to see. Modi soon went on to post an avalanche of documents related to charges the Enforcement Directorate has levelled against him over gross violations of India’s Foreign Exchange Management Act. According to Modi, the ED must also seek answers from top Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) officials at the time, namely current International Cricket Council chairman N Srinivasan and former treasurer MP Pandove, for charges that relate to financial transactions by the cricket board when Modi was IPL chief between 2008 and 2010. Officials from the Enforcement Directorate, however, have categorically stated that Modi’s disclosures will “have absolutely no bearing on our investigations and adjudication proceedings”.
Lalit Modi, who is currently evading Indian authorities in London, fell into the limelight last Sunday after it emerged that External Affairs Minister Swaraj had gone out of her way to help him obtain travel documents from the British government, after his passport had been revoked by the Indian government. Rajasthan Chief Minister Raje was soon drawn into this controversy after Modi’s lawyer released an unsigned “witness statement” allegedly written in favour of the embattled former IPL chairman by the current Rajasthan chief minister, when she was the leader of opposition.
Subsequently, suspicious financial transactions between Modi and Raje’s son also came to light, although Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s had contended that all these dealings were “commercial”. The ruling government at the Centre has been firefighting the entire episode ever since. On Tuesday, however, the BJP was yet again made to respond to stray comments coming out of their own camp. BJP MP RK Singh, who had served as Home Secretary at the Centre, said that helping a “<g data-gr-id="32">bhagoda</g>” (fugitive) is wrong, no matter who helped him. Singh went on to add that Modi should be brought back and made to face trial.
There is little doubt that the entire episode has cast a dark shadow on the ruling establishment at the Centre. For the sake of propriety, the Narendra Modi government must set up an apex court-monitored investigation into all of Lalit Modi’s dealings. There will be short-term political losses to pay, but the benefits of such an investigation may go some way into not only fixing cricket administration, but breaking the cosy nexus that exists in the higher echelons of government.