New Delhi: Indian Premier League (IPL) chairman and commissioner Lalit Modi has done a dramatic volte-face and decided to attend IPL’s governing council meeting on Monday in which he faces calls to step down from the helm amid a wide-ranging probe into the league’s financial affairs.
Also See ‘The Conflict Has Just Begun’ (Graphic)
Modi, who had earlier refused to convene the meeting and called it “illegal”, said on the microblogging site Twitter that he would be chairing the session that follows Sunday night’s final between the Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings.
“I have issued the agenda to the governing council,” Modi tweeted even as some media reports, which could not immediately be confirmed, said the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) was contemplating sending him a suspension notice.
The single-point agenda set by Modi requires council members to give any complaints against him, other members of the council or BCCI in writing, backed by documentary proof, so that they can be replied to.
The agenda seemed designed to forestall any discussion at the meeting, which has been seen as the potential climax of a showdown between him and opponents seeking his ouster from IPL’s leadership. Documentary proof may be difficult for his detractors to present, given that most documents have been seized by the income-tax department and other agencies.
The three-year-old Twenty20 cricket tournament is being investigated over allegations that the ownership of its teams was not clear and the bidding process had been compromised to favour Modi’s friends and relatives.
“I have crossed bigger hurdles in my life, this will pass too. I have done nothing wrong. You are scared only if you have done something wrong. I have nothing to hide,” Modi said.
Members of the governing council, meanwhile, gathered in Mumbai on Sunday and “issued a notice” to Modi, a senior council member told Mint, asking not to be identified.
“The conflict has just begun...the governing council has issued a notice to Modi and something will be decided tonight,” he said, without elaborating on the contents of the notice.
The IPL controversy erupted when Modi appeared to be unwilling to sign a deal with a business consortium that won the bid for a new team to be based out of Kochi, Kerala.
On Twitter, he revealed the ownership details of the consortium, before accusing junior foreign minister Shashi Tharoor of having a stake in it in the name of his friend Sunanda Pushkar. Tharoor has since resigned, but subsequent investigations have widened to cover alleged irregularities in the ownership of other IPL teams and other wrongdoing.
“People pressurising me to resign—I can tell you (it) will not happen,” Modi tweeted on Saturday. “Let them remove me then.”
In an email to board president Shashank Manohar last week, Modi said he would boycott the “unauthorized” Monday meeting. Later, he asked for the meeting to be deferred to allow him time to prepare his defence. But he was refused.
BCCI, which oversees all forms of cricket in the country, had planned a discussion of the allegations pertaining to Modi and IPL at Monday’s meeting of the governing council.
The meeting is scheduled to start at 10am at BCCI headquarters, secretary N. Srinivasan said, but did not disclose its agenda.
A BCCI official said, on condition of anonymity, that the meeting will take up Modi’s alleged breach of confidentiality in disclosing the shareholding structure of the Kochi franchise on Twitter, as well as charges relating to IPL contracts being awarded without proper bids.
A PTI news agency report said the BCCI’s constitution empowers its disciplinary committee “to inquire into and deal with the matters relating to any act of indiscipline or misconduct or violation of any of the rules and regulations of any player, umpire, team official, administrator, selector or any other person appointed or employed by the BCCI”.
Pending an inquiry, the person would be suspended by the board president from “participating in any of the affairs of the board until final adjudication”. The adjudication should be completed within six months.
On Sunday, efforts continued to persuade Modi to quit on his own as he had vowed to expose others who may have tried to benefit from IPL deals, PTI reported.
“Wait for IPL to finish. I will reveal the men who tried to bring disrepute to the game and how we stopped them from doing it,” he wrote on Twitter on Saturday.
In what appears to be an increasingly lonely battle, Modi still retains the backing of I.S. Bindra, a governing council member and the head of Punjab Cricket Association. IPL team owners Shilpa Shetty, Vijaya Mallya and Jay Mehta have also expressed support for Modi.
Before the final began, Modi referred to next year’s edition of IPL, an apparent sign that he wasn’t perturbed about his future. “We will have 94 games. More games and more competition... There will be two new teams and a brand new auction next year,” he said.
Graphic by Yogesh Kumar / Mint
PTI contributed to this story.