In a midnight move, a la late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, banned IPL founder Lalit Modi on Saturday quit all cricket administration, including the president’s chair of Nagaur District Cricket Association in Rajasthan, and sought a “graceful exit” from the BCCI.
Modi, 53, wrote a letter to BCCI CEO Rahul Johri to inform him that he was bidding “goodbye to cricket administration for now”, and requested the BCCI to pay the Rajasthan Cricket Association (RCA) its “rightful share” of funds held back for long. The BCCI has held back the funds as Modi continued to part of Rajasthan cricket despite serving a ban.
The BCCI has withheld RCA’s share/subvention money ever since the association elected Lalit Modi president in 2013, at a time when he was serving a ban, for alleged financial misappropriation during his tenure as IPL chairman and commissioner. The Board said that since he was banned at the time, he could not hold any administrative post in India. Although the BCCI has been fielding various teams of the state in domestic tournaments under the name of ‘Team Rajasthan’, normalcy has been missing in its cricketing affairs.
Now, Modi’s resignation comes just before the start of a new domestic cricket season and with uncertainty continuing to loom large over the RCA even as cricket administration-related cases are still being fought in the courts of law in Rajasthan. Modi’s step seems to help remove this uncertainty hanging over RCA.
In a separate emotional letter, addressed to RCA members, the London-based business tycoon said he was quitting as president of Nagaur District Cricket Association and passing the “baton to the next generation”.
On being asked as to why he quit, Modi told Outlook on Saturday: “Time to move on. Let the youngsters not be deprived due to me solely. The BCCI mandarins are so scared of even my shadow that they continue to deprive RCA of its rightful place. Cricket is bigger than me, or anyone. No one should be allowed to do what these clowns [office-bearers] at Cricket Centre [BCCI headquarters in Mumbai] are doing. So, if I am the root cause [of RCA’s sufferings], then time to say adieu.”
Even as Lalit Modi leaves, his 22-year-old son Ruchir remains in the RCA, as president of the Alwar District Cricket Association. Ruchir, however, contested and lost to veteran politician CP Joshi the election for the RCA president’s post recently.
Modi’s ban was technically over on September 24 last year as the BCCI Constitution doesn’t allow more than three years’ ban at one stretch – after this period a person/official/state can apply for reinstatement. But Modi didn’t apply for his return and continues to reside in England, since moving there in May 2010. On Saturday, when asked if he has applied for reinstatement since September, Lalit Modi told Outlook: “No. Now it’s over. Best this way. Just give me a graceful exit. That’s all I ask.”
In the two letters, Modi highlighted the work he had done since first being elected as RCA president in 2005 and then as IPL chairman and commissioner between 2007 and 2010 when he was expelled from the BCCI for alleged financial misappropriation. “They illegally expelled me,” Modi had told Outlook in September last year.
In his letter addressed to Johri, Modi said he was bidding cricket “goodbye for now”, perhaps inadvertently leaving the door ajar, just enough for people to debate and speculate.
“When I look back at all this work at a macro and a micro level, I believe it is truly time to move on and provide the next generation of administrators an opportunity. This way we will be able to ensure that there is never a stagnation of ideas and ideas as we all know in this VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) world is the new global currency,” he said.
“More importantly, I believe in the reforms introduced by the Hon’ble Justice Lodha. I believe that is truly the way forward. In fact, the RCA was the first of the associations to ensure 100 per cent compliance with the proposals of the Lodha Committee in letter and spirit. And in that same vein, I am happy to inform you that I have decided to bid cricket goodbye for now,” he wrote.
Modi requested Johri to help release the RCA’s dues. “But for Rajasthan to aim higher, we [RCA] need funds from the BCCI which is our rightful share. I have done my part for the betterment of Rajasthan cricket, and now it is your turn to honour your part of the promise! I repose my faith in you and the BCCI to do the right thing! I would, therefore, request you to release the funds due to RCA as soon as possible,” he wrote.
“I believe it was blocked precisely because of my presence. With my exit from all forms of cricket, at all levels, for ever, I think RCA deserves to reclaim their share and presence on the Indian cricket map,” he made a fervent appeal.
It, however, remains to be seen how the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA), which is actually controlling the Board at present, views Modi’s resignation.
The CoA has in the recent past left a few contentious issues to be decided by the BCCI’s general body, rather than itself take a decision. Modi was banned by the Board’s general body. So, will his resignation issue also go to the general body? That question remains to be answered.