New Delhi: Even as the government stepped up its investigation of the Indian Premier League (IPL) with the Registrar of Companies (RoC) reviewing the equity holdings of the franchisees, there were fresh indications that Lalit Modi would be pressured to relinquish his job as IPL commissioner.
While Modi remained adamant that he would not step down, the odds of him staying on in the job worsened after Sharad Pawar, former president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and food and agriculture minister, gave the go-ahead to the move to remove Modi following a series of meetings during the day with finance minister Pranab Mukherjee and home minister P. Chidamabaram. Pawar also met Shashank Manohar, who is currently the president of BCCI, to discuss the issue but declined to divulge details.
While Pawar could not be reached, two people familiar with the developments, but who did not want to be identified maintained that the minister had come around.
Separately, a BCCI official who did not want to be identified indicated that if Modi does not resign during the governing council meeting set for 26 April in Mumbai, he will then be appointed as co-chairman of IPL along with Manohar, following which an annual general meeting (AGM) of BCCI will be convened forcing Modi out through a call of votes.
A senior member of the IPL governing council who is opposed to the way Modi has handled matters pertaining to the Kochi franchise confirmed, speaking on the condition of anonymity, that “BCCI as a majority wants Modi to go and will ask him to resign on the governing council meeting and if he does not, the matter will go to the working committee and then be decided at the AGM.”
Modi was unreachable on the phone, but told reporters in Mumbai that he was not quitting.
Modi’s actions have come under the scanner after he made public the shareholding structure of the Rendezvous Sports World Ltd, the consortium that won the bid for the Kochi IPL team for $333.33 million (Rs1,487 crore today) on 21 March, on Twitter. His tweet showed that Sunanda Pushkar, a friend of former minister of state of external affairs Shashi Tharoor, had been given sweat equity worth Rs70 crore in the team.
Since then a fierce battle has ensued between the Kochi team owners and Modi,leading to the exit of the team’s chief executive officer Shailendra Gaikward, Pushkar and on Sunday, Tharoor himself.
Meanwhile, as part of the investigation into IPL, the ministry of corporate affairs (MCA) has asked respective RoCs to look into the shareholding of the teams and the bidding process.
“The ministry has written to various RoCs to find more about the bidding processes and sweat equity involved in sports companies that own IPL franchises. The idea is to probe whether there has been any violation of the Companies Act 1956,” said an MCA official who did not want to be identified.
Santosh K. Joy and Sangeeta Singh contributed to this story.