Lalit Modi, 44, commissioner of the Indian Premier League (IPL), seems to be heading for serious trouble in Rajasthan.
His power base, the presidency of the Rajasthan Cricket Association (RCA), is under serious challenge at a time when he is facing serious corruption charges.
Elections to the association are scheduled for February 22 — and 22 out of 32 voting members in the association have rebelled against him and have sought to strip him of the absolute powers that he currently enjoys.
Can he maintain his position and clout in BCCI and world cricket?
Modi puts up a brave face. “I’m not worried at all as I haven’t done any wrong. My IPL and BCCI positions are not dependent on me being in the RCA,” he told HT in an interview last week. Despite several attempts, HT could not contact Modi for fresh comments.
The rebellion at RCA couldn’t have come at a worse time for him. Even as the nattily turned out IPL chief, known as much for his designer suits and flashy cars as for the success of IPL, was in Goa on Friday presiding over the auction of cricketers for the second edition of the tournament, the Rajasthan police arrested his close associate Rajendra Nandu in connection with a forgery case relating to the purchase of land in Nagaur district, about 300 km from Jaipur.
The allegation is that Modi bought land in Nagaur but got someone else to provide the thumb impression on his behalf on the document.
“I invite the police to match my thumb impression with the one in the document. If it isn't mine, I'll resign immediately,” he had said then.
There are also allegations that he capitalised on his proximity to former Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje to forcibly acquire havelis near the historic Amer Fort in Jaipur, and embezzle Rs 22 lakh from RCA.
Modi has denied these allegations. In particular, he dismissed the charge of embezzlement as an “old charge”. HT learns that he has deposited the amount to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
Then, Modi is also fighting a case in the Supreme Court, where his rivals have challenged his election as RCA president on the ground that he was not eligible to contest RCA elections since he was convicted for possession of cocaine, kidnapping and assault while he was a student at Duke University in the US in 1985.
There are reports that he is trying to delay the RCA elections. But his rivals aren't ready to give up. “His term has ended and he does not have a majority (in RCA). We will not tolerate any tactics to delay the elections,” said Kishore Rungta, his rival and former RCA president.