Lalit Modi is a megalomaniac.
The former czar of the IPL wishes to take over the world—the cricketing world.
And that too in style.
Modi and his cronies have envisaged a new world order that does not require the sanction of the ICC, one that affiliates itself with the Olympic movement. The blueprint will do away with ODI cricket altogether and consist of only Test and T20 tourneys.
“We’re talking about another cricketing system. There is a blueprint out there, it’s got my rubber stamp on it. I have been involved in it. I say it for the first time, I’ve been involved in putting that (blue)print together. We could take on the existing establishment, no problem. It requires a few billion dollars, I don’t think it would be a problem to get that … into action.
The plan that I have put together is a very detailed plan, it’s not a plan that’s come off the cuff, it’s been taking years and years and years in the making.”
The fugitive from justice has termed the big three of international cricket, India, Australia and England “snakes”.
Speaking to ABC Network in its documentary, ‘The Great Cricket Coup’, Modi said:
“They are the three snakes of cricket. You’ve got to take their neck off, you’ve got to chop their head off, otherwise cricket will not survive.”
(Modi apparently does not understand that snakes have no necks.)
“For me to get players would be…a switch of a button. There was a report that ran on the front of The Australian newspaper that said $100 million pay cheque for two of your players. I think that’s an easy cheque to write and if that cheque is easy to write then ‘would I get the players or not?’ is a question you should ask the players, not me.”
The heartening aspect of this extraordinary plan is that Modi does not intend to do away with Test cricket.
Also, he does see the need to gain approval from another body, if not the ICC, the IOC.
That is going to be an onerous task.
The ICC is unlikely to relinquish control over a sport that is a money-spinner for the powers-that-be without a fight.
It would be interesting to see how Modi’s plot pans out.
Kerry Packer and his ‘pyjama cricket’ improved cricket telecasting and was the harbinger of fatter pay packets for the players and commentators.
Not that the sport needs more; at least, the Indian players would differ strongly.
But an offshoot of any such attempt might mean that more cricket is played all over the world and the profits redistributed to many more nations much like Sepp Blatter’s FIFA, perhaps, without the endemic corruption and powerplay(s).
More power to Modi.
‘The Great Cricket Coup‘ is available for viewing here.
The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) is anti-competitive.
The sports ministry of India believes so.
Unable to overturn a ban on its athletes participating in unauthorized road races, the ministry has called upon the Competition Commission of India to squash the draconian move by a body that ironically receives funding from the central government.
No athlete affiliated to the AFI is currently allowed to compete without first obtaining clearance from it.
The decision was ratified in its AGM.
“The house unanimously approved to take action against the state units officials athletes and individuals who en courage the unauthorized marathons and become part of such marathons where AFI permission was not taken and it was made mandatory to seek permission of AFI before organizing any road race marathon on national and international level.”
The sports ministry in its complaint termed the move “anti competitive, not conducive to development of sports at grassroots level and was likely to have an adverse impact on promotion of sports and protection of the interest of sportspersons.”
AFI president Adille J Sumariwalla responded:
“We have a meeting with the ministry every 10 days, but nobody has raised this issue with AFI. If the ministry has any problem with AFI, they should discuss the issue with us.”
He also denied that there were any such restrictions on its athletes.
The ministry also claimed that the AFI was only one among many national sports federations resorting to such unethical practices to retain their hegemony.
The ministry also claimed that it was unable to take any action as the AFI was an autonomous body.
The Tribune, in its editorial titled ‘Let People Run‘ , was critical of the AFI.
“Greed is the root cause of the ongoing conflict between the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) and the organisers of various road races in the country. The AFI wishes to control all athletic competitions. Laughably, it declares that various marathons — like the Mumbai Marathon or Delhi Half Marathon — are its properties. That’s patently false. They are not the AFI’s properties for they’ve been organised and nurtured by private companies like Airtel, Standard Chartered or TCS. The AFI’s role in these races has been restricted to obtaining royalty and capitation fee — running into lakhs of rupees — from the organisers. These races have become extremely popular, attracting celebrities and a very large number of runners. For instance, last year’s Delhi Half Marathon had over 32,000 entries, and over 15 sponsors/partners. The AFI wants a larger chunk of the pie. It’s about money.
It’s not unprecedented for a sports association to desire complete control over a sport in an attempt to completely control the cash inflow. The Indian cricket board (BCCI) did the same when the rebel Indian Cricket League (ICL) was launched by the Zee group in 2007. The BCCI banned all the cricketers who associated with the ICL, which eventually collapsed. But the players benefited from the emergence of competition — the BCCI made a dramatic increase in the wages for the players at the domestic and international levels.
There’s a marked difference between the BCCI and the AFI. The former is an independent society, which now resembles a corporate entity with money-making as an objective. The AFI, though autonomous, can exist and operate only because it’s supported by public funding. The road races, which attract people toward sport, should have been the AFI’s own initiative in the first place. But now it wants to jump in for money. The AFI can’t stop commoners from running, and it must not be allowed to ban the athletes who compete in the races as well.”
The Mid-Day, in a piece titled ‘Marathons: Who’s running the show?‘, expressed concern for elite athletes.
“What this current imbroglio does, though, is throw athletes into a quandary. It is hugely confusing for state and national athletes. Which event do they participate in? Should they take part in a road race that does not have the AFI blessing? Would they even know which events are ‘authorised’ or ‘unauthorised’? Who would be able to tell them?”
The DNA, in an article by Chander Shekhar Luthra, revealed another aspect behind the AFI’s decision.
“………a senior AFI official said on condition of anonymity that the ‘marathon business has been flourishing in India in last one decade and it needs to be regulated in order to check any malpractices’.
In one such non-recognised marathon event, The winner was not given any. And when this athlete complained to the ministry, AFI was asked to file an explanation. The GBM resolution was passed to curb such unethical practices only,’ said the official on Friday.”
The Competition Commission of India website states:
“Competition is the best means of ensuring that the ‘Common Man’ or ‘Aam Aadmi’ has access to the broadest range of goods and services at the most competitive prices. With increased competition, producers will have maximum incentive to innovate and specialize. This would result in reduced costs and wider choice to consumers. A fair competition in market is essential to achieve this objective. Our goal is to create and sustain fair competition in the economy that will provide a ‘level playing field’ to the producers and make the markets work for the welfare of the consumers.
The Competition Act
The Competition Act, 2002, as amended by the Competition (Amendment) Act, 2007, follows the philosophy of modern competition laws. The Act prohibits anti-competitive agreements, abuse of dominant position by enterprises and regulates combinations (acquisition, acquiring of control and M&A), which causes or likely to cause an appreciable adverse effect on competition within India.
Competition Commission of India
The objectives of the Act are sought to be achieved through the Competition Commission of India (CCI), which has been established by the Central Government with effect from 14th October 2003. CCI consists of a Chairperson and 6 Members appointed by the Central Government.It is the duty of the Commission to eliminate practices having adverse effect on competition, promote and sustain competition, protect the interests of consumers and ensure freedom of trade in the markets of India.The Commission is also required to give opinion on competition issues on a reference received from a statutory authority established under any law and to undertake competition advocacy, create public awareness and impart training on competition issues.”
This is not the first time an Indian sports body has been in the cross hairs of the regulatory watchdog.
In 2013, the BCCI was slapped with a Rs.52.24 crore fine for blocking players from opting to participate in competitive league such as Subhash Chandra’s Indian Cricket League (ICL).
The complaint filed by Surinder Singh Barmi, a Delhi-based cricket fan, alleged “irregularities in the grant of Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise rights for team ownership, media rights for coverage of the league, and in the award of sponsorship rights and other local contracts related to the Twenty20 league conducted by BCCI.”
The ruling was later set aside by the Competition Appellate Tribunal (Compat).
“The finding recorded by the Commission on the issue of abuse of dominance is legally unsustainable and is liable to be set-aside because the information downloaded from the net and similar other material do not have any evidentiary value and, in any case, the same could not have been relied upon by the Commission without giving an effective opportunity to the appellant (BCCI) to controvert the same.”
The CCI used information from public sites without disclosing to the BCCI their sources to arrive at a ruling thus vitiating the rule “audi alteram partem (let the other side be heard as well).”
To be continued…
Lalit Modi is making waves not just in the political sphere but also in the travel sphere.
Unconfirmed reports reveal that travel companies Thomas Cook and Cox and King are vying to enlist the former cricket czar as their brand ambassador.
An anonymous source within Thomas Cook confirmed the news.
“Mr. Lalit Modi would be a wonderful emissary for the travel industry and Thomas Cook, in particular. Extensive reportage of his sojourns in the Indian media over the past few days has witnessed an increased interest in packages for exotic locations such as Havana, Cuba, Montenegro, Madrid,Jamaica,Zimbabwe,Pattaya,Seychelles, Serengeti,Venice,Istanbul, Doha, Qatar, Positano, La Coruna, Ibiza, Spain and last, but not least, Portugal. We expect the demand for these destinations to grow exponentially should Mr. Modi agree to our terms. Who are we kidding? Mr. Modi can name his price.”
Cox and Kings representatives expressed similar sentiments.
Meanwhile, ICC chieftain, N Srinivasan, was horrified that his former ally and current foe was visiting countries and places on the fringes of international cricket.
It is learnt that the former BCCI chief is investigating the possibility that Mr. Modi is a front-man for Dr. Subhash Chandra, chairman of the Essel group. The Essel conglomerate is in the news for registering subsidiaries in Australia and New Zealand in an attempt to overthrow the existing cricketing establishment and form a breakaway body that would lure top cricketers into their fold.
“Is Mr. Modi purveying Mr. Chandra’s agenda while purportedly holidaying at these outposts?”
wondered Mr. Srinivasan in a hastily deleted tweet.
“I can visualize the sales pitch—A truly international T20 competition, come with your WAGS. Come one, come all. Beach cricket now not just a dream.”
Meanwhile, in an interview with a leading daily, Ms. Zoya Akhtar thanked Mr. Modi for inspiring the choice of locations for her next film.
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. (Some facts and all “quotes” in this article are fabricated but you knew that already, didn’t you?)
First, it was Sushma Swaraj.
Next, Vasundhara Raje.
The saga of Lalit Modi—which tars politicians of every feather who are connected or who communed with him—continues.
Meanwhile, the former cricket administrator gallivants the partying world enjoying the immunity granted him by his erstwhile familial and political allies.
The Congress and its allies have promised to disrupt parliamentary proceedings seeking removal of the BJP matriarchs.
Narendra Modi and his cohorts came to power on the back of NaMo’s version of “It’s the economy, stupid” promising “acche din” and good governance.
While the NDA government enjoys a majority in the Lok Sabha, it is not so in the Rajya Sabha. The Congress and its allies rule the roost there throwing a spanner in the works of any new bills forcing the Prime Minister to promulgate ordinances instead.
Narendra Modi would be well advised to give his constituents what they deserve and let the cards fall as they may. The Gujarat strongman is not to shirk from doing what’s right. Swaraj and Raje should be asked to resign.
The previous government had one of the worst records on parliamentary business conducted. A similar fate should not befall this one.
All appearances of impropriety should be investigated and guilty parties penalized.
Narendra Modi should preside over “acche din” and not merely be the “King of Good Times“.
Lalit Modi is in the news once more.
Indian cricket administration’s enfant terrible has snagged yet another victim.
This time, it’s External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj.
Swaraj finds herself embroiled in a conflict of interest.
The minister championed Lalit Modi’s cause requesting the British government to let Modi to travel to Portugal to visit his ailing wife citing ‘humanitarian‘ grounds.
Whether the minister was in the right is debatable. But she was clearly in the wrong in acting for Modi because her daughter is on Lalit Modi’s legal defense team. So is her husband (Swaraj’s son-in-law).
The last time, the UPA was in power, Shashi Tharoor—coincidentally Minister of State for External Affairs—had to resign his seat because of similar conflict of interest allegations. His then wife (now deceased) Sunanda Pushkar was an interested party in the forming of the Kochi Tuskers (now defunct) franchise.
What is it about Indian politicians and conflict of interest situations?
Is it time our politicians were made to undergo an induction training session where a conflict of interest situation is made clear to them?
Are these high-profile names merely the tip of the iceberg and simply anything goes in Indian politics where non-transparency is the norm?
It will be interesting to see how Prime Minister Narendra Modi handles the first real blemish on his government’s record. Will the NDA emulate the UPA and ask Sushma Swaraj to resign? Or will it be simply a case of ‘I dare you to prove otherwise.‘?
What he said:
“I wanted to give Modi no ground for complaint.”
Manohar—a lawyer by profession—said:
The truth is he called me sometime in early May 2010, and told me that he would be making an allegation (questioning my neutrality) against me in the media. He said, ‘The truth is only known to you and me and I know that as per your nature you will not speak to the media.’ He also told me that Srinivasan was also involved in a few wrongdoings. I told Modi to point those out and assured him of action against Srinivasan too if he was indeed involved. He never got back.
What Shashank Manohar really meant:
“Lalit Modi made his point. Ipso facto, I recused myself.”
What Shashank Manohar definitely didn’t:
“Cleaning the BCCI’s Augean stables is right up my alley.”
What he said:
We were taken for a ride. I know we cannot plead before you that we did not know all this was happening. Your question would be, were you not vigilant? What did you do? I am sorry, sir, there is no defence for me. No defence in front of you. So, I am not pleading that at all. We just put our heads down.
N Srinivasan, BCCI Secretary and owner of Chennai Super Kings (CSK), claims that he and his colleagues were hoodwinked by ex-IPL commissioner Lalit Modi.
His remarks were made to Parliament’s Standing Committee on finance when it was discovered that all cheques were signed by Srinivasan—then treasurer— and his successor, MP Pandove.
What he really meant:
“So what if I’m MD of India Cements. Lalit Modi outsmarted us. Believe us, we’re innocents.”
What he definitely didn’t:
“The IPL Governing Council was farcical.”
What he said:
“It is not as if the BCCI is a closed-door body.”
BCCI President, Shashank Manohar, defends the cricket board’s right to stay independent. The Indian sports ministry is seeking to classify the richest sports body in the world as a national federation under the proposed National Sports (Development) Bill 2011. It is believed that the move would make the BCCI accountable under the Right To Information (RTI) act—a view contested by the BCCI.
Manohar reacted claiming that the BCCI “being a non-governmental organization, which has its own constitution and generates its own funds” does not fall under any of the applicable categories.
“In fact, there are two orders passed by the country’s Chief Information Commissioner wherein it has been clearly stated that the RTI Act doesn’t apply to the BCCI."
The Board President contended:
“All said and done, cricket is the best administered sport in the country.”
What he really meant:
“How can we have a closed door policy? There is no door. Lalit Modi’s generous tweets and disclosures (from UK) battered it down.”
What he definitely didn’t:
“The BCCI is sanctioning the building of a fresh office—all glass.”
If it had not been the BCCI that first linked him to the Sri Lankan Premier League (SLPL), his recent disclosures about the Indian Cricket League (ICL) could have been construed as yet another attempt by Lalit Modi to turn the spotlight back on him.
The ex-IPL honcho projects an impression of missing the glory, accolades and kudos that came his way when he was the high-flying architect of the biggest organizational success story in international cricket since Kerry Packer‘s World Series Cricket (WSC).
The Indian television media, as expected, went overboard on his revelations. Arnab Goswami of Times Now button-holed the IPL founder on prime time. Lalit Modi flatly denied any connection with the Sri Lankan league—direct or indirect.
To attribute altruistic considerations to Lalit Modi’s revelations—as Arnab rightly pointed out—is foolish. However, to dismiss the allegations as ravings of a disgruntled ex-BCCI employee or to term him a liar is foolhardy.
What he said:
“It is like a sugar-free candy bar. Because it does the same thing. It tastes the same. But then there is always that one thing that’s missing.”
Siddharth Mallya on the IPL without Lalit Modi.
What he meant:
“Lalit Modi’s the sugar missing from the IPL candy bar.”
What he definitely didn’t mean:
“Lalit Modi’s my sugar daddy.”