Lalit Modi was everything his detractors said he could not be – composed, forthcoming, graceful, patient and cheerful – when he met HT for a chat on Friday. The IPL chairman (and Rajasthan Cricket Association president and board vice-president) has had an FIR lodged against him in the last week and faces revolt from the RCA. You would not think that if you met him.
You have been accused of forgery, embezzlement and being autocratic during your reign as RCA president.
Everything we have done is constitutional and speaks for itself. Look at the facts, accounts, records - it is evident. People who are accusing me were running Rajasthan cricket for 40 years and yet had no stadium. What I have done is clear- something you can touch and feel. As for the forgery case, they say that the thumb impression and signature on the Nagaur land document is not mine. I invite them to take my thumb impression to a forensic lab and match it with the one in the document. If it isn't mine, I'll resign immediately.
Regarding the embezzlement charges – I've made millions for the institution, I don't charge daily and travelling allowances. I pump in crores and they're talking about measly sums that aren't even true.
We have a document that says your personal secretary debited her expenses to RCA when she traveled to Ireland.
Those papers are correct. Radhika Moolraj is my secretary and I pay her. She went to Ireland for some BCCI-related work on my behalf. So her expenses were inadvertently charged to the BCCI. I have written to the BCCI explaining this. The BCCI has replied and it has been rectified and entries changed. That was the old document and this is a non-issue.
Kishore Rungta alleged that you spent over Rs. 10 crore on interior designing and work is still pending, and that you gave the contract to an acquaintance without inviting tenders.
Why are these issues being raised now? Why didn't they say so when the accounts were cleared? All costs are approved by the executive committee, audited and then passed by the AGM before being cleared. We got the best designers in the world for the academy what they have done is evident. We have a five-star facility for the players. I am a person who never compromises. When I joined RCA, it was suffering losses when it staged international matches and I changed that and started making 80-100 crore per match.
It is alleged that you appointed a three-member committee to get RCA elections postponed. You also curtailed the powers of secretary Subhash Joshi.
There are multiple cases involving the RCA at the moment, we have a status quo order of the High Court. As president, I do not want to take any steps that might lead to legal complications or are not constitutionally correct. I appointed a three-member committee comprising retired Supreme Court judges whose impartiality is unquestionable to address whatever grievances RCA members have. I curtailed Joshi's powers because he misused his power and embezzled funds. He continues to be a member. The matter just came to my knowledge and I am acting on it.
Do such allegations bother you?
I'm not worried at all. My IPL and BCCI positions are not dependant on me being in the RCA. I'm a vice-president of the Punjab Cricket Association and will continue with the IPL and BCCI. What pains me is that the work I have done will be nullified if these people take charge. I don't want my efforts to go waste.