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Cricket bazaar - Not a Modicum of logic

 

Lalit Modi is small fry. The IPL row has put Sharad Pawar’s future and the 2011 WC in danger
May 2, 2010 17:44
Tags : Cricket bazaar |BCCI |GOI |IPL |T20 WC |
 

 Cricket bazaar - Not a Modicum of logicHarpal Singh Bedi

Eminent sports journalist

Lalit Modi is a fall guy. Those who were hailing him as a messiah till the other day are now baying for his blood. The media, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the Government of India (GOI) want to slay him for “tax evasion, money laundering, arrogance, betting, scandals” and what you have.

The media, BCCI and GOI till a week back were at the beck and call of Modi. The media, which is now publishing reams of damning documents supplied to it by government agencies, till last week never uttered a word against him because it wanted a share of the “loot”. The BCCI, basking in Modi’s glory as it was raking in unprecedented amounts of money and strengthening its position as a cricket superpower, never questioned him about how the moolah was being generated. For the GOI, he represented the best of Young India. Ministers sought favours from him and political parties, barring the left and some sections of Socialists, wished that he was with them. The auction in which Sahara and Kochi won their bids, which afterwards led to this mayhem, was billed as the ultimate showcase of India’s growing economic strength and brilliance of private entrepreneurs. IPL had everything going for it. Everybody from top industrialists to politicians to money brokers to film actors wanted to own a team. And to add to this mad frenzy Lalit Modi said: “There is no recession in the IPL.” He seemed dead right at that time.

But suddenly everything fell apart and in less than a week, he became a demon who had to be slayed. What went so horribly wrong that the very foundations of IPL were shaken and the showcase event for last three years became the mother of all ills – betting, slush money and corruption? Modi and the very powerful coterie in the IPL did not like the entry of a nouveau riche Shashi Throor in that exclusive club and rest as they say is history. Enter the IT department and the enforcement directorate sleuths and with a speed which will even put Usain Bolt to shame they produced documents nailing Modi. The media lapped it up, the BCCI became jittery and GOI tried to reassert its authority. But is Modi all that powerful? Is it possible for one man to run the billion-dollar “slush money empire” single-handedly? From the start, questions were raised about IPL’ structure but because massive money was involved nobody bothered to look into the sources. The IT department kept quiet and so did the enforcement directorate. Modi did not buy a plane or a luxury yacht in a day. Why was no action taken against him till the controversy erupted? The government, smarting under the humiliation of being forced to drop a 10 Janpath loyalist from the Council of Ministers, wants revenge. The concept of IPL was built around money along with glitz and glamour. Some cricket was thrown in. How money is being generated, who are the investors, was the auction system transparent, has it become a source of money laundering are some of the questions being asked. 

But why blame IPL? BCCI, which has FDs worth over Rs 1000 crore and telecast rights money worth Rs 1000 crore, is not paying tax. It’s a non-profitable institution. As far as money laundering is concerned one should learn from BCCI. After India won the T20 WC, every player was paid a whopping Rs 50 lakh and now every player who breaks or sets a record is given a few lakhs, for a job which he is supposed to do. Even the state governments indulged in laundering, handing over millions of rupees to the already cash rich cricketers. These very governments will bring in rules and regulations if they have to spend even a thousand rupees on a poor or needy person. But all these rules and regulations were completely ignored and not one newspaper or TV channel questioned this blatant money laundering. One just has to go through BCCI’s history of the 1990s. To win BCCI elections, millions are spent, with no fear of income tax raids or enforcement directorate’s questioning. So how could BCCI rein in IPL? It was Lalit Modi’s over-confidence, arrogance and indiscretion which led to his fall. But will his quitting solve the problem? No way. It will open a can of worms. Is the political establishment in the country ready for it? The IPL commissioner is small fry in this “billion dollar war”. It will affect Sharad Pawar’s chance of becoming ICC chief and also raise doubts about the hosting of the 2011 World Cup in India.

Several Australian and England players and administrators have no love lost for the IPL which they have termed as a haven for betting and match-fixing. They had already raised doubts over the amounts of money being paid to players. describing it as awesome, vulgar, ridiculous and obscene. 

They were waiting for a chance to hit back at India and they have now got it.

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017