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Modi & Modi?

Why did Lalit Modi hit out at Kochi? Shashi Tharoor alluded to his bias for "another city in a different state". Was it Ahmedabad, in the state ruled by the other Mr Modi?

Modi & Modi?

In his statement, Shashi Tharoor charged, "Various attempts were made by Mr Modi and others to pressure the consortium members to abandon their bid in favour of another city in a different state. Mr Modi raised assorted objections to the bid documents but finally had no choice but to approve them."

While Tharoor stopped short of naming the city, those in the know say his reference was to Ahmedabad, sought by Adani group, which was almost certain to get an IPL team at the auction on March 21. It lost out to Pune and Kochi.

Incidentally, Jacob Joseph, Shashi Tharoor's officer on special duty (OSD), alleged in an interview, Modi had asked the consortium to quote a price of $297 million for the bid. "He had no business to suggest this. We did not go by that because we knew that the eventual price would be much higher. In hindsight, we know that he was trying to scuttle our chances."   The Tharoor-backed consortium eventually won the rights for Kochi franchise for $333 million.

Significantly, Gujarat State Cricket Association president is none other than the other Modi -- the Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi who was very keen to have an IPL franchise for Ahmedabad.

Lalit Modi is said to have a significant stake in Rajasthan Royals, the Jaipur-based franchise in which at least one of his relatives, brother-in-law Suresh Chellaram, has a significant stake: as much as 44.1 per cent.

Even if Ahmedabad were not to get an IPL franchise, Lalit Modi has been keen to consider it as an alternative home for Rajasthan Royals, ever since he lost control of Rajasthan Cricket Association (RCA) and BJP led by CM Vasundhararaje went out of power in the state, BCCI sources say.

Lalit Modi's frustration with Jaipur was also available from the other target of his ire on Twitter on the same night when he let Mr Tharoor have it. He tweeted about "problems in Jaipur" and advised Shane Warne who complained (@warne888 here very annoying for our fans that the people in charge at Jaipur treat people this way both our franchise and fans), that he "should clearly tell what is the state of affairs".

Before that, Modi also shared his frustration with RCA officials:

My team and RR officials harassed by state officials.Is this the way to hold matches in a state.That is why I have boycotted jaipur matches

Shashi Tharoor's officer on special duty (OSD) Jacob Joseph had asked: "Why isn't he [Lalit Modi] talking about two other teams which are registered in Mauritius? Why is he insisting only on the ownership of Kochi franchisee?"

Insiders say the reference was to the two teams where Lalit Modi has an interest: Rajasthan Royals via his brother-in-law and Kings XI Punjab via his stepson-in-law.

Prem Panicker summed up the controversy well on his popular blog:

What probably looked like a good idea at the time — throw some mud, get the Kochi franchise disqualified, call for another auction and steer it in the desired direction — is already looking like a mis-step of monumental proportions. And the fun is only just beginning — the next few weeks are, if there is anything to the background buzz the media antenna has been picking up, liable to be packed with a fair quota of drama, and some headaches for the IPL’s combative commissioner.


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