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The fall: What goes around comes around

Everyone knows the story of the little boy who would never be dismissed in galli cricket because he owned the bat and ball and would promptly run home when he was out. Most people have read reports of the young man who shrugged off a backfired collegiate experiment with drugs and selling them because his well-connected papa bailed him out.

cricket Updated: Apr 27, 2010 00:23 IST
Anand Vasu

Everyone knows the story of the little boy who would never be dismissed in galli cricket because he owned the bat and ball and would promptly run home when he was out. Most people have read reports of the young man who shrugged off a backfired collegiate experiment with drugs and selling them because his well-connected papa bailed him out.

Of course, you’ve heard about the executive who crushed the rival league under foot because he and his powerful friends ran official cricket and had the power to do so.

They’re all stories of Lalit Modi, a man who grew so powerful and believed in his myth so passionately that in the end, he could no longer distinguish right from wrong, even assuming he could in the first place. Through all these threads is one soundtrack: at no stage did anyone question his actions vigorously enough to force him to introspect.

The obvious thing to say — and it’s being said loudly and shrilly enough — is that Modi, the IPL commissioner, grew into such a monster that nothing short of a cull would suffice. The more instructive approach is to look at what made him that way, and the evidence has always been there.

In 2005, when Modi overthrew the Rungtas in Rajasthan to get a foot in the door in the BCCI, it was through a governmental amendment of the Sports Act, backed fully and visibly by the then-ruling BJP state government. That he treated all opposition shabbily, refused to allow any of his decisions to be questioned and went to the extent of slapping a police officer in full public view, are well known stories. His prime backer in the Board, the genteel IS Bindra, might have done Modi a favour by reining him, but either he indulged the protégé, or could not persuade him.

Once in the BCCI, Modi led the witch-hunt against Jagmohan Dalmiya, and having had him suspended, championed the need to press criminal charges and have the police go after the former ICC chief. Why, Modi famously threatened to “lock up Dalmiya and throw away the keys.” Such bravado would have been empty had it not had the backing of a heavyweight like Sharad Pawar. A seasoned politician and no stranger to fingers being pointed, perhaps Pawar might have cautioned Modi that what goes around comes around, but either he never did, or it fell on deaf ears.

When he conceived, gestated and delivered the IPL, Modi was welcomed as the Messiah, the man who created a world-class product that the whole of India could be proud of. The bright and the big from corporate and Bollywood fawned at his feet and schmoozed at his parties, not reminding him once of the multitude of offerings, from award-winning novelists to uplifting employers like Infosys.

Through all the mayhem, a governing council of worldly wise men and Modi’s elders in experience and age, sat idle --- rendered immobile by Modi’s deceit and deliberate opaqueness, they insist. Shashank Manohar glibly chastises the media for suggesting that the governing council must also accept responsibility. “Know the facts before airing opinions,” he says, cheerfully ignoring the fact that it is the BCCI, which is not in possession of documents that it is meant to have written in the first place.

Today, when Modi has fallen, and Indian cricket administration’s reputation has taken a serious beating, the same men celebrate victory. The BCCI top brass is tap-dancing quite gleefully around Modi’s cricketing corpse, but given how sordid this business has all become, it won’t be a bolt from the blue if an actual body turns up at some stage. And then, they’ll have blood on their hands and it won’t be such a laughing matter.