Thursday morning dawned with Kochi spokesman Satyajit Gaikwad, a two-time Congress MP and cousin of the Kochi franchise CEO Shailendra Gaikwad, making startling allegations about "pressure exerted" on them through Lalit Modi by BJP bigwigs Narendra Modi and Vasundhara Raje to quit the franchise in order to facilitate a move to Ahmedabad.
By evening though, the murky drama took another dramatic twist, with both Gaikwads apparently losing their posts in the franchise and the IPL chairman being in serious danger of having his wings comprehensively clipped.
According to sources, a late evening meeting in Delhi attended by all the investors, promo-ters and board members of the Kochi franchise and marred by "several differences of opinions and ego clashes" saw the board replace Shailendra with Keshav Tahilramani of Rosy Blue (one of the world's biggest diamond companies, based out of Dubai — they make Orra diamonds).
The company website lists Tahilramani as overseeing Sri Lanka operations for the group. Rosy Blue, which has interests from
Ahmedabad to Antwerp, is also the parent company of Film Wave, which has a 26 per cent share in the franchise.
Harshad Mehta, the Dubai-based head of Film Wave, a company that finances Bollywood films amongst others, has been appointed chairman of the Kochi franchise.
Shailendra, who was reportedly "attending to his unwell mother-in-law", was unavailable for comment. It is reliably learnt that Satyajit meanwhile, has also had the spokesman's role taken away from him. The new spokesperson will take charge on Friday, after another meeting of the franchise partners.
Sources indicated most members were unhappy with the way the cousins have handled matters over the last few days, leading to "needless controversy" and a political scandal. The Friday meeting will decide what their future role in the franchise will now be.
The Gaikwads share of the sweat equity in the franchise (amounting to about Rs 290 crore at current value for management services rendered over the next 10 years), is expected to stay unchanged.
Meanwhile, in another major development, Lalit Modi's future role in the IPL could well be discussed at a meeting in Dharamsala, also on Friday.
While former Board president Sharad Pawar told the media that BCCI president Shashank Manohar would discuss the matter, the BCCI brass, ostensibly in the hill station for the Deccan Chargers vs King's XI Punjab game, is expected to thrash out the issue and try and see what damage control could be done.
One possible outcome could be to make Manohar co-chairman of the IPL governing council, thereby effectively curtailing Modi's prowess. No one would come on record though, about whether this was a possibility.