KARACHI: In spite of mounting pressure from many quarter of the Indian establishment, Indian Premier League (IPL) chairman and commissioner Lalit Modi Tuesday appeared defiant and said that he was not stepping down from his post. Returning to India after two days in Dubai, Modi struck back with his usual bullish attitude, declaring that “there is no question of me resigning, no need for me to step down.
I will present all the facts against all the allegations. There is nothing to worry about and we will carry on.” Modi faces an uncertain future after the government launched a tax probe into the financial dealings of the moneyspinning cricket tournament. The investigation began after revelations by Modi led to the resignation of a government minister and claims from the opposition that the league was a front for money laundering and illegal betting.
Top officials of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), which owns the IPL, are believed to blame Modi, 46, for attracting the taxman to their door and many want him to quit as IPL commissioner. Modi, the driving force behind the success of the IPL, which has seen its brand value surge to 4.1 billion dollars in just three short years, has vehemently denied any wrongdoing.
Modi and the minister
The income-tax department has summoned IPL officials to hand over all tournament paperwork by Friday, including details on television rights, sponsorships and deals with franchises and players. Modi brought down junior foreign minister Shashi Tharoor by revealing on Twitter the ownership structure of a new IPL franchise that showed a free stake had been gifted to the politician’s girlfriend.
Tharoor, a former top UN diplomat, was forced to resign on Sunday over allegations - which he strongly denied - that the stake was a kickback for his help in putting together the consortium that bought the franchise. The furore led the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party to demand an investigation into the IPL, which it labelled “the Corruption Premier League”.
Questions of quitting
“Lots in media - speculations,” Modi wrote on his Twitter page from Dubai where he is representing the BCCI at an International Cricket Council (ICC) meeting. “Welcome all investigation. Ready to extend all cooperation,” he added.
There was growing speculation that Modi will quit before a meeting of the 14-member IPL governing council in Mumbai next Monday, on April 26 but BCCI officials cautioned against jumping the gun. “Look, there is a lot of anger that Modi has put us in such a mess,” a senior BCCI official told AFP. “The board has never faced such embarrassment. But the general opinion is to give Modi a chance to explain his side of the story... if he wants to that is.” Federal minister Sharad Pawar, a former Indian cricket chief who takes over as ICC president in June, was confident the IPL’s governing council would resolve the matter.
“They will take a collective, unanimous decision and give future direction to Indian cricket,” said Pawar, who himself is not part of the IPL setup. “The total effort will be to protect the interests of Indian cricket, the cricket-loving public and the players.”