It was a typically cocky Lalit Modi who returned to Indian shores from Dubai on Tuesday.
<b1>Amidst increasingly vocal calls for his sacking from within and outside the BCCI, and rumours of an 8:30pm deadline to do so, Modi set the tone for confrontation when he said he would not quit as chairman of the IPL.
“There is nothing to worry about and (I) will carry on,” he said, predictably defiant, before speeding away to the Mumbai hotel he has lived at ever since his house was engulfed by a fire last year.
But Modi might be forced to temper his attitude when he takes into account what transpired when BCCI president Shashank Manohar met ICC president-elect Sharad Pawar in Delhi on Tuesday afternoon.
Manohar made it clear to Pawar — who has been perceived as Modi’s only powerful supporter in the powers-that-be of the BCCI — even though Pawar is not a member of the IPL’s Governing Council.
Manohar reportedly told Pawar that he needed to see that the mood within the BCCI, the government and the country was against Modi, and that he (Modi) was “impossible to defend”.
Sources told HT that Manohar informed Pawar he would have to help persuade Modi, who had “appointed himself commissioner” to step down or indicate he would do so ahead of the IPL Awards Night function slated to take place on April 23. If Modi failed to do so, the BCCI would be forced to send a strong signal of disapproval to the IPL chairman, and this could even be in the form of the entire BCCI brass boycotting the Awards Night in Mumbai.
Sources added that the BCCI was very keen that there was no repeat of the days of the match-fixing scandal 10 years ago. “It took us years to live that down and regain the confidence of the people, we cannot afford to be perceived as a corrupt organisation because of the arrogance and policies of one or two men,” said a BCCI official. “If the government probe does not go the whole way in investigations, we will look to institute a probe of our own, possibly hiring professional investigators, and getting to the bottom of allegations. We will clean up the BCCI.”
Sources also said that if he did not resign by the 23rd, the Governing Council meeting on the 26th would open with Modi being asked to step down.
If he did not, then Manohar would be left with no option but to read out the list of charges against Modi and move a motion to begin the process of removing him as chairman.
"The concern is that Modi will continue to be defiant and he will try to take Pawar down with him,” said another official. “The expectation is that Modi will not go without a fight, but he should know that he will lose if he fights us.”
A possible defence Modi could offer was that the Governing Council had approved the contracts that he entered into, and yet they were now singling him out when things went wrong. A Governing Council source countered this by explaining that they were seldom brought one contract to approve.
Typically, Modi presented several points together in a PowerPoint presentation, with several annexures in fine print and when someone would ask a question, it was brushed aside with the suggestion, “Why get into red-tape and look at every annexure, this is making us money after all and is good for the IPL.”
While things could get very ugly at the April 26 meeting, Pawar tried to portray an image of calm and control after his meeting with Manohar. “We will take a unanimous and collective decision in the April 26 meeting. We want to protect the interest of Indian cricket, its fans and players,” said Pawar. “Don't forget Mr Modi is also a vice president of the BCCI and our total approach and past experience (is), we always take collective and unanimous decision that everyone is party to, including I hope Lalit Modi.”
Modi did his best to appear unfazed in his brief interaction with the media in Mumbai. “We are all together. I will present all the facts about all the allegations coming out at the governing council meeting.”