Things have turned turtle for former IPL chief Lalit Modi with his expulsion as head of Rajasthan Cricket Association (RCA). Reports state that it is the ongoing tug-of-war between CM Vasundhara Raje and the top BJP leadership in New Delhi that forced Raje to get rid of her close friend. Though Vasundhra Raje maintained that she is not into cricket politics, many still confirm that Raje had a meeting with Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) official Ratnakar Shetty, before the coup was executed with military-like precision by RCA vice president and state BJP’s minority cell convener, Amin Pathan.
Pathan is reported to have been present during the Raje-Ratnakar talks. Raje gave a go-ahead to Pathan, who has been Lalit Modi’s alter ego.
Lalit Modi was removed as the RCA president on 11 October following a no-confidence motion against him and replaced by Pathan as acting president by 23 out of 33 votes. The motion was also brought against deputy president Mahmood Abdi, secretary Somendra Tiwari and treasurer Pawan Goyal. Ever since Lalit Modi was elected as RCA president in May this year, the BCCI had banned the body.
Though the elections were held in December last year, the results could not be disclosed due to a legal tussle between BCCI and RCA and it was after the Supreme Court’s intervention that the results were finally announced in May. Modi had then secured 24 out of the total 33 district associations that comprises RCA. However in his absence, Modi’s confidante Mahmood Abdi ran the show for him in the state for the past four months.
Refusing to accept the decision, Modi’s legal counsel and former deputy president Mahmood Abdi said, ‘The RCA Act has a provision for no-confidence motion for which a meeting of the executive has to be called 21 days in advance. There was no such notice and even today the total number of members who arrived for the meeting is not what is being quoted. The signatures of the 23 supposed votes in favour of Pathan are illegible.’ He added, ‘The Executive Committee of RCA having Lalit Modi as its President which was duly elected under the supervision of the Hon’ble Supreme Court appointed a committee to observe. It has overwhelming support of the District Associations therefore there is no questing of their removal by the unauthorized and wrongful measures by disgruntled elements.’ Both groups are fighting it out in the High Court and the next hearing is on 14 November.
The court in its last hearing had barred both groups from entering RCA and the administrative work is being done by JC Mohanty, principal sports secretary of Rajasthan state government.
Friends turn foes
The tweet-master Lalit Modi created a flutter with an attack on Vasundhra Raje on Wednesday evening by tweeting, ‘Like in centre cleanup happened… Vasundhra BJP needs to show the same strength and start cleanup within her coterie… crooks all around…’ Modi has been privy to Raje’s working style in her previous term when the duo got along famously. However, over the years as Modi ran into the BJP central leadership (read Arun Jaitley), Raje too had to keep her distance from him.
Lalit Modi’s tweets from London against senior BJP leaders like Arun Jaitley and Bhupendra Yadav in the run-up to the assembly election last year, saying, ‘elections round the corner - seems coterie of Arun Jaitley-Bhupendra Yadav has started to sell tickets. Cash-for-tickets seems (to be the) new mantra. Sad’, was the bone of contention. Raje, surprisingly, preferred to remain silent on the matter, notwithstanding the fact that Jaitley, then the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, had helped her become the chief ministerial candidate. On the contrary, she went a step further and got Lalit Modi reinstalled in the RCA as its president in May, giving an impression that she wanted to begin her second innings as chief minister from where she had left in 2008.
Explaining the relationship between Modi and Raje, a senior journalist based in Jaipur said that there were rumours that during Vasundhra Raje’s last tenure Modi made a lot of property in the state.
Several shops, havelis and other assets were bought anonymously. There have also been opposition’s claims that Raje had used Lalit Modi in investing money abroad. ‘Lalit Modi has been a big player. Modi will stay quiet for some time and will definitely make a comeback. He is waiting and watching the situation and everyone in RCA knows that Lalit Modi cannot be ignored, ’he added.
Amin Pathan, the Trojan Horse!
Amin Pathan was always Modi’s man. Those who know the closeness between the two are taken aback by Pathan’s coronation as the new head replacing his own Godfather. But certainly Delhi is playing a big role in deciding the fate of the RCA. Highly placed sources in the state confirm that Pathan, who is believed to have chief minister Vasundhara Raje’s full confidence, was a well-thought out selection by the ruling establishment as it no longer wanted the state to suffer from severe financial losses due to Modi’s stand-off with the BCCI.‘Amin Pathan has taken patronage of BJP bosses in Delhi. Madam is under intense pressure from Delhi leadership but at the same time she can’t afford enmity with Lalit Modi. They have been very close and know each other’s secrets. So Vasundhra is trying to make sure her name does not crop up into the matter. But she can’t get away with this so easily,’ said Rajendra Rathoure, secretary of Jhunjhunu District Cricket Association. He further said, ‘Now the Amin Pathan led- camp is seeking an indirect way to find a solution and will try to delay the matter for a month or two so that the situation takes some favourable turn. An ad-hock committee will be set up and fresh election may be held soon’.
Another sports administrator, on the term of anonymity, added that Lalit Modi cannot be ignored by the Raje government. He knows her secrets as they have shared family relations and Vasundhra will certainly play her card once the excitement ends. Raje may ask Modi to stay away from the board directly and ask him to appoint his man in fresh elections.
Modi manages all!
The pro-Modi group strong believes that the no-confidence motion was a farce. It is believed that Lalit Modi has a group of 12 districts associations which can never vote against him. ‘Lalit Modi is godfather for us and we are always with him, whatever may be the situation. Amin Pathan can never be a replacement. Lalit Modi will be back as the president of the board,’ believes Rajendra Singh Naandu, secretary of Nagaur District Cricket Association.
Explaining Modi’s hopes, Jhunjhunu secretary Rajendra Rathaour says that Modi strongly believed that situations will turn in his favour once BJP government would come in the state. With Raje’s help he wanted to make a comeback but things did not change at the Centre as his rift with Arun Jaitley went public. After all, despite charges of Srinivasan’s involvement in the betting in IPL matches, things are still in the ICC chief’s favour and hasn’t been found guilty even in Mudgal committee’s probe, yet.
Nevertheless, Modi’s position is still strong in court and outside court. The process adopted by the committee is under scanner. Numbers in favour of Modi’s dethronement are not sufficient. Tomorrow some members may file a petition in the court citing irregularities in the voting process. It is true that all the district associations were not intimated officially. The decision was taken in the locked chambers of the big bosses just to appease Delhi. Besides, people here still remember his incredible role in bringing infrastructure to the state stadia.