Lalit Modi, BCCI ready for ugly divorce

MUMBAI/NEW DELHI: The BCCI brass on Wednesday made clear its intention of ousting T20 czar Lalit Modi from IPL by insisting on a meeting of the IPL governing council on April 26 when a coup is planned, while Modi mounted a plucky fight by seeking to abort the meeting.

He also hinted that the battle could become really nasty by leaking an email exchange between him and BCCI chief Shashank Manohar.

Speaking to the media for the first time since the IPL controversy broke out, Manohar told TOI from Nagpur that IPL affairs have reached an “emergency situation” and there was no question of putting off the April 26 meeting. “No matter what, we are going ahead with the meeting on April 26,” he said.

The BCCI boss’s words were interpreted to signal not only the BCCI brass’s determination to oust Modi, but its preparedness to go ahead and sack him even if he were to be absent at the governing council meeting in Mumbai. For all practical purposes, the BCCI boss has served a quit notice to Modi ahead of the meeting where the numbers appear to be overwhelmingly loaded against him.

A cornered Modi and his dwindling band of supporters hit back with the “leak” of an email to governing council members on April 14, to show that he had actually wanted to disclose the details of ownership of franchises but was restrained by Shashank Manohar and Arun Jaitley. The emails show Modi as eager to disclose the details on grounds of “propriety and fairplay”, while Manohar and Jaitley say the confidentiality clauses and all legal implications should be studied before the disclosures are made.

Shashank Manohar appears to have rightly interpreted the leak as an announcement of war and broke his silence. He told TOI: “If he was so honest and truthful about all his dealings then what was he doing for the last three years? If he says all allegations against him are baseless and he is clean then why does he want the governing council meeting postponed? Why can’t he come and discuss it with the council once and for all?”

Manohar also pointed out that Modi had himself signed the confidentiality agreement with the Kochi franchise, and then went ahead and tweeted the details of its ownership pattern to the public at large.

Manohar’s remarks came on a day when the government’s scrutiny into IPL widened. PM Manmohan Singh too was “briefed” of the developments by BCCI official Rajiv Shukla. BCCI has apparently urged the PM to help “clean up the mess in IPL” by ensuring focused official action.

Modi seems bent on a bitter end to his row with the cricket establishment even as it is clear that his “mentor” NCP boss Sharad Pawar is not reconsidering his decision to unhitch his fortunes from Modi’s.

An angry associate of Lalit Modi said on Wednesday that IPL was the IPL commissioner’s baby and was being snatched from him. “When no corporates were willing, Modi got his relatives and friends to invest. Now that it has become big, how can he be removed?” he said.

Modi says he had written to the BCCI president back on April 14, asking him to call for a meeting so that everything being alleged against him could be clarified and a copy of the letter was distributed in the media on Wednesday.

Joining the issue, BCCI chief Shashank Manohar said, “All these contracts are signed by him since 2007. Why did he reveal nothing for three years? He wanted to call a meeting on April 14 but one has to understand that all governing council members are not based in one place and it takes time.”

He added, “On April 19, everybody was informed that the governing council meeting has been scheduled for the 26th. The BCCI secretary is the convener for all meetings and as a courtesy we ensured that we were informing everybody a week in advance. Today morning (21st) Modi calls up and says he won’t go ahead with it. Ifs Modi was ready to meet around April 14 itself then why not on April 26?”

Manohar also lashed out at Modi on the Kochi franchise issue, saying, “The franchise wrote (to BCCI) on April 12 accusing the board of breaching the confidentiality agreement. It is Lalit who had signed the confidentiality clause with them.”

Throughout Wednesday, a day after Manohar met Sharad Pawar in Delhi, Modi was at the Four Seasons Hotel in suburban Mumbai. He accused BCCI of “not giving enough time so that he could prepare his defence”. Modi is understood to have made the point that, therefore, he would not attend the meeting.

BCCI doesn’t require Modi’s physical presence at the governing council meeting to oust him. A two-thirds majority ratifying the decision is enough for the board to go ahead.

The Style Souk