Mumbai: The head of India’s $4 billion cricket league was suspended from his post on Monday following graft allegations in a growing scandal that has ensnared politicians and strained the ruling coalition. The Board of Control for Cricket in India has appointed an interim chief and has said it will cooperate with tax authorities probing the three-year-old Indian Premier League (IPL).
Here are some questions and answers about the future of Modi and the league, the game’s most lucrative tournament.
What steps has the BCCI taken?
The BCCI suspended Modi minutes after the final of the third edition of the tournament on Sunday, pending inquiry.
Modi has 15 days to respond to the board’s questions on various activities of the IPL, BCCI president Shashank Manohar told reporters.
The board will drop its probe if Modi convinced them of his innocence, Manohar said.
BCCI has appointed board member Chirayu Amin as interim president of the IPL and asked the board’s secretary Ratnakar Shetty to look into all the records of the IPL, many of which are missing from the office, Manohar said.
The BCCI was “fully cooperating” with the government, Amin told NDTV news channel on Tuesday.
What are the charges?
The BCCI is looking into allegations related to initial bids for two of the franchises, charges of rigging of bids this year for two new IPL franchises, broadcast deals, and the “behavioural pattern of Lalit Modi”, Manohar said.
IPL has a telecast deal with Multi Screen Media Pvt Ltd (MSM) backed by Sony Entertainment Television, and a broadcast deal with Google’s YouTube, Shetty said.
The BCCI is handing over all documents pertaining to these and other deals to tax officials, Shetty said.
“MSM strongly refutes all unsubstantiated allegations of any impropriety in this matter as incorrect and inaccurate,” a statement from the company said.
“We have not been contacted by any investigating authorities with regard to our agreement...”, a spokesman for Google said.
The Income Tax department, in a statement, said it was “investigating only the taxation aspects of transactions relating to the (IPL)”.
How is the government affected?
The scandal has sparked tensions between the ruling Congress party and a key ally, the Nationalist Congress Party, whose chief Sharad Pawar, president-elect of the International Cricket Council, is seen as close to Modi.
A junior foreign minister resigned following allegations of improper influence and his war of words on micro-blogging site Twitter with Modi was “the last straw on the camel’s back”, Amin told NDTV.
The opposition has demanded a probe into the IPL, with some lawmakers demanding the state take over the BCCI and the IPL.
Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee has told parliament an investigation has been launched into “all aspects of IPL”, including its source of funding, from where the funds were obtained, and how they have been invested.
What next for Modi?
Modi, who is credited with almost single-handedly turning the fledgling league into a $4.1 billion enterprise and bestowing the Indian board with enormous economic clout, denies any wrongdoing.
Modi tweeted on Monday: “I am still chairman of IPL. Just suspended. Wait - we have just begun”.
Modi could file a reply to the BCCI and wait for the board’s decision, or he could approach a court in Mumbai or Chennai, where the BCCI is registered, to have the suspension order lifted, local papers say.
If the board does not lift the suspension, Modi could seek the support of other board members to be reinstated at the annual general meeting in September, local papers say.
What next for the IPL?
A committee comprising three former cricketers from the IPL governing council, Sunil Gavaskar, Ravi Shastri and MAK Pataudi, has been appointed to oversee all matters relating to IPL 4.
The BCCI will be involved more directly in the IPL, Amin said, and decide what aspects of the tournament will be retained for the next edition, including cheerleaders, and after parties. Ownership details of the franchises will be made public, he said.