He created the Indian Premier League to great fanfare and had to leave in ignominy. But the imprint of Lalit Modi is deep on Indian cricket. Be it Union minister Shashi Tharoor or BCCI president N. Srinivasan, no one’s been able to ward off the tell-tale tweets of the man who knows too much. Modi, 51, spoke to Nabanita Sircar in London after the Justice Mudgal committee report. Excerpts:
After the Mudgal report what do you think will happen in the IPL investigation against CSK and RR? Will we see the whole truth?
I think the Supreme Court-instituted Justice Mudgal committee has done a fabulous fact- finding job. They have done a very thorough investigation to indict Gurunath Meiyappan in the IPL betting scandal.
I now look forward to seeing our system of natural justice prevail and am glad to see that the Justice Mudgal report confirms all that I have been saying for so long. I hope that the Supreme Court now takes cognizance of these findings and does what is right as per the rules and regulations that govern the IPL.
I would like to see the CSK team annulled from all future IPL activity including Season 2014, as per the rules. A life ban for its principal and owner who has a direct conflict of interest being a BCCI office bearer and a team owner would then be a natural corollary too. I am certain that the truth shall ultimately prevail, as I have full faith in the India judiciary and I now look forward to law taking its natural course.
Why have you tweeted that Justice Mudgal was the target of a covert surveillance operation in UK? Do you have evidence? Who do you believe is behind it and why?
I am deadly serious about what I said about the covert surveillance operation carried out during Justice Mudgal’s visit to London. The covert surveillance was straight out of a James Bond movie and the theatre of the macabre. I first did not believe it by my security company claims to have the details of the surveillance operatives and is currently in the process of verifying the source who ordered the covert operation. Needless to state that once I have all the facts I will make them public.
Besides the fact of who ordered these covert surveillance operations— I ask you, are such covert operations not a total invasion of an individual's freedom and how can someone target a highly respected retired High Court Chief Justice? These operations are a total invasion of one’s privacy and civil liberties!
What do think will be the implications that can come into play after Justice Mudgal’s report to the Supreme Court ?
As I mentioned earlier, I am truly happy to see the system of natural justice prevail and glad to see that Justice Mudgal report reconfirms, all that I have been saying about conflict of interest, Gurunath being an owner and not a cricket enthusiast, the malaise of spot fixing being a bane, cover-ups by players and administrators all to safeguard the interest of some corrupt and deplorable individuals.
The implications and ramifications of these findings should be far reaching and I hope that the Supreme Court now takes cognizance of these findings and does what is right as per the rules and regulations that govern the game and the IPL.
Given that Gurunath Meiyappan’s role as CSK principal and the fact that he was involved in betting have now been ratified beyond doubt, it is but natural that the due process as per the rules and regulation take over. I would like to see the CSK team annulled from all future IPL activity including Season 2014 as per the rules. A life ban for its principal and owner who is has a direct conflict of interest being a BCCI office bearer and a team owner would then be a natural corollary too.
But more than that the need of the hour is to make some deep, incisive and sweeping changes to ensure that there is “No” systemic failure in the future. It is time to clean up cricket and the IPL. The six players that media report mention as named in the second part of the report that is yet to be made public need to be taken to task. Administrators, players, agents anyone found even remotely connected to book making and match fixing should be rooted out of the game immediately. We need to ensure that we clean the system from within and if need be we should PURGE the entire system once and for all.
On the IPL front, I think it is time to disband the IPL Governing Council to ensure that any and all elements of bias are removed. It is time for a new Supervising Board with all the stakeholders of the IPL on it to take charge, run and govern the league. The new Supervising Board with all stakeholders on board should be responsible for conducting and running the tournament albeit at an arms length. Next and more importantly the immediate need of the hour is to re-auction a new Chennai team. Even more important is to redo the player auction without any player retention. As we all know that the current retention rules all favour one and only one team namely CSK.
Lastly, I think it is critical that the old rules that we had framed are brought back into contention to avoid any similar issues in the future.
Moving away from IPL for the moment, what do you have to say about India joining hands with Australia and England and shutting out the world No 1, South Africa?
What can one say about something that will be downright detrimental and disastrous for the game? The big three— so called because they represent the world game’s financial muscle— want a comprehensive overhaul of the International Cricket Council which would effectively give them all the power.
Under a new executive committee called ExCo, the trio would have the ability to override all other countries, raising the fear that while India, England and Australia would get richer, the poorer nations like Sri Lanka, Pakistan and New Zealand would be destitute. If this is not cartelisation of cricket I don’t know what is…
I consider this an unholy trinity, one that will threaten the very future of the game. How can power vested in only three cricketing nations possibly be good for the other Test playing nations and the associate members? Especially since these three nations will end up lining their own pockets. It is a total scandal and it must be stopped. The ECB, Cricket Australia and BCCI will thus end up killing the game of cricket. Great, India and England and Australia can play amongst themselves to their heart’s content but they have put every other nation on the bread line. This oligarchy of sorts that could well lead to the ruin of the game— as we know and love it today! It is the most retrograde step taken in cricket in recent times. Whatever happened to the role of the ICC to promote the game and increase the size of the playing pool by ensuring that more nations convert to the game? Where is the meritocracy in this if promotion and relegation of test teams is based purely on the “FINANCIAL MUSCLE” they hold? Whatever happened to the mission of growing the game and hoping to see people in the Americas, Africa and China take to it?
Aren’t the BCCI, ECB and CA forgetting the basic fundamentals of sport: provide level playing fields, give the underdog a chance even if it is a slim one and promoting fair play?
Without these basic principles and tenets, I think cricket and indeed any sport would be devoured of all its dignity and honour. It would simply be reduced to the level of excessive financial greed. What then is the fundamental point of sport?
I would like to remind the ICC of it’s own vision of success, their strategic direction, their mission statement and their values. The current goings on are in fact, in direct contradiction to the ICC’s vision for the game. On its website it promises to “captivate and inspire people of every age, gender, background and ability while building bridges between continents, countries and communities”. And it’s ‘Strategic Direction’ is to have “a bigger, better, global game targeting more players, more fans, more competitive teams.” It is all on their official site and I guess it is time they read it again before embarking on this suicidal mission to burn the bridges between continents, countries and communities that they promised to build through this great game.
Lastly, why the sudden rush to do these massive changes? More than meets the eye I say… Goes against the very fundamental fabric of an Independent Sporting Governing Body… which today seems is no longer Independent.
With Srinivasan’s ascension as ICC chief what kind of impact will there be on world cricket?
As I have just reiterated above Srinivasan has already put into place his masterplan to ensure that the rich get richer and the poorer cricketing nations are left standing in the bread line for crumbs. Its a move that will undoubtedly have far reaching and disastrous consequences. N. Srinivasan does not have the best interests of the world game at his heart. He does not even have the best interests of India at his heart. He runs the BCCI like a fiefdom, his own personal business. And now he is going to run world cricket for his own interests.
What do you have to say about the stranglehold of TV companies on the game?
If you look at the Business of Sport and the revenue models of any of the major sporting leagues in the world, you would realize that a large chunk of the financial viability of that sport is due to the revenues brought into the league by the broadcaster. Thus, the broadcaster does have a critical role to play in helping the sport evolve and grow.
But in terms of strangle hold— I would imagine it would be up to the administrator to ensure that the broadcaster does not interfere too much with the running of the sport— that can never happen. Minor tweaking can be done to accommodate requests from the broadcaster but they should never be allowed to affect the on-field action in any manner or form. It was after an in-depth study of the business models of global sporting leagues like the NBA, EPL, NFL etc., that I had proposed the same to the BCCI and that is how the IPL is benefitting from the International Broadcast rights deal with MSM bringing in significant revenues to the central revenue pool to ensure viability of the league from day one
With Srinivansan heading ICC and having people like Rajiv Shukla and Arun Jaitley as his allies, how difficult does that make your fight. Will you still continue your battle for justice?
As I have said earlier, my ouster from the BCCI was all a huge conspiracy spearhead by N Srinivasan and his buddies. They needed a fall guy and as I was the outsider in their club. In that sense the BCCI ban on me was predictable to say the least and I am not perturbed about it.
I would like to reiterate that I have never been given a chance to present my case personally. Under these circumstances, the tide was always against me. Srinivasan has managed to keep “the flock of members” together so much so, that not one word was uttered at the special general meeting except to move the resolution.
But life for me has gone on and I will continue to fight the powers that be within the BCCI and have no doubt in my mind that the truth shall ultimately prevail. In fact, I am happy to not be sitting across or at the same table as the much maligned facilitators of match fixing that have brought so much ignominy and dishonor to the game of cricket that we all love. I keenly await the verdict of the Rajasthan Cricket Association that will be duly announced on March 4th and we will take it from there. Please be rest assured you have not heard the last of Lalit Modi…
The Bombay High Court has directed the ED to provide documents regarding the foreign exchange violations. Do you think it will help you to take your battle forward?
As I said before, I have full faith in the Judiciary and with the recent verdict from the Divisional Bench of the Honourable Bombay High Court— I am even more enthused. My stand has clearly been vindicated by the Hon’ble Bombay High Court. This shows that it was not me that has not been cooperating with the ED as has been sought to be made out, but on the contrary, it has been the other way around all along.
As you would be aware the Divisional Bench of the Honourable Bombay High Court recently set aside the opinion formed by the ED (Enforcement Directorate) to hold adjudication proceedings against me. A bench comprising Justice Vajifdar and Justice Collabawala allowed the same on two counts. The two counts being, the violation of principles of natural justice whereby much of the documents relied upon by the agency were not supplied and the opinion rendered was wholly unreasoned.
The court has given an option to the ED to issue a fresh show cause notice. Either the ED chooses not to rely on the said documents which it has consistently failed to supply despite repeated demands; in which case it should choose to exclude those documents from consideration all together. And if the ED chooses to rely upon the said documents, then the agency should supply all the documents to me and give a fresh opportunity to our team to reply and then form a reasoned opinion. Interestingly, I have been seeking these documents from the ED but on one pretext or other, have been denied access to the same by the ED though clearly as per adjudication rules these should have been supplied.
This outcome has given me immense hope for the future and fight on I will…..
You had taken IPL to great heights, but now it has so happened that as soon as Sunanda Pushkar mentions IPL she is dead. And your lawyer, has in fact asked for an inquiry into the Kochi franchise issue. What is it that you feel has happened?
My heartfelt condolences to Mrs. Pushkar’s family and may the lord almighty give her family the strength to bear with this grave loss— is all I will say on this matter for now.
Why do you think the SC stayed the decision on the result for the RCA?
The Supreme Court, just as recently as January 27th chose to defer the opening of the sealed envelope containing the outcome and results of Rajasthan Cricket Association’s elections held on December 19th 2013 to March 4th 2014. I am disappointed that yet again I will have to wait for the results to be opened due to BCCI wanting more time to explain their stand on how they should be allowed to interfere with the democratic process. Especially since there is a lot to be done at the RCA in terms of decisions to be taken about rebuilding the infrastructure and setting our house right for the future. All of which has been deferred now until the results are announced on March 4th.
Interestingly, though what surprised me about the whole episode was that the BCCI seemed to know the result even before anyone else did and even before the court has pronounced it, as their lawyer acceded to my victory in court. I am extremely happy that the BCCI think I have won and I now await the verdict on March 4th
Are you still determined to return to India? How do you think you will succeed?
I am certainly keen to return to India. It is after all HOME and I miss it a lot, especially since all of my friends and family are here. But thanks to modern day technology I am able to stay in touch with my family and that has eased my pain a great deal. Having said that I am optimistic that given the way things are looking. I should be back in India sooner rather than later.
A shorted, edited version of this appears in print