In the Gujarat chapter of the fight for IPL rights, there was a convergence of cricket and two powerful Modis, Lalit and chief minister Narendra. The troubles of the Rendezvous Sports World (RSW) can be traced to the day they surprisingly won the bid to buy a franchise in the IPL.
Rendezvous insiders explain how Lalit Modi had “advised” them to place their bid below $300m, assuring them he would handle it from there on—but they went ahead and bid at $333m. This proved to be the second-highest bid, after Sahara’s three separate bids of $370m for three cities—Ahmedabad, Pune and Nagpur. Sahara settled for Pune and Rendezvous for Kochi.
The notoriously egotistic Modi may have overreached himself. His family’s ties with the IPL present a conflict of interest with his commissioner’s office.
There were two other important players in the bidding process, Videocon Group and the Adanis of Gujarat. If Rendezvous had bid at below $300m, as was allegedly advised by Lalit Modi, one of these two would have been successful; Videocon’s bid was $319.90m and Adani’s $315m. Rendezvous representatives allege that they were pressurised—and offered a “bribe”—to pull out so that Videocon, with the next highest bid, could get a team, for Ahmedabad.
Sources in the Gujarat Cricket Association, of which Narendra Modi is the president, say that the Adanis were secretly relieved at losing the bid. “They are not really interested in cricket,” a source explains. “They were pressurised by Narendra Modi to bid for a team.” The chief minister, the source says, wanted to bring the IPL to Ahmedabad, to build up Brand Gujarat and shore up his popularity.
Another source talks about political equations. “Lalit’s proximity to former Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhararaje is well known,” he said. “Though he’s trying to cultivate Congressmen, he clearly has BJP leanings, and he wanted to have an IPL team in a BJP-ruled state.”
The source says that the Adanis could also be relieved because their perceived proximity to the BJP was getting them into the central government’s bad books. Incidentally, the cbi arrested Adani Group managing director, Rajesh Adani, for evading customs duty in February.