Banned former Indian Premier League chief Lalit Modi’s controversial move to contest the Rajasthan Cricket Association elections hung in balance after the Supreme Court observer, NM Kasliwal, put off his final decision on the issue to Wednesday, a day before the poll.
Modi, banned by the BCCI in September on corruption charges related to IPL, enjoys overwhelming support in Rajasthan cricket with 24 of the 29 voting district units backing him. However, representatives of district bodies aligned with current RCA president, Dr CP Joshi, held a seven-hour meeting with Kasliwal on Tuesday, asking him to bar Modi from contesting.
The Joshi group told Kasliwal that Modi will not be able to run the body as he stays abroad and was not allowed to come to India. Joshi did not file his nomination after his support base eroded when most of the units shifted allegiance to the Modi camp once the BJP government under Vasundara Raje Scindia came to power.
After Modi filed his nomination on Monday, the BCCI sent a letter to the RCA warning that if he contested, it would disaffiliate the state association. However, the RCA is also governed by the Rajasthan government’s Sports Act. Modi was the RCA president from 2005 to 2009 during Raje’s previous tenure (2003 to 2008). Modi was helped by the BJP government that replaced the Sports Policy with the Sports Act, 2005. Under its rules, the votes of individuals were done away with and each district unit was given one vote each.
While everyone acknowledged that Modi did a lot for cricket development in Rajasthan, there were allegations he meddled in government affairs.
Former chief minister Ashok Gehlot had made insinuations that Modi was a power broker for Raje. A close confidant of Raje, Modi was virtually calling the shots in the government.
Leaders and officials recall how government officers would carry official files to Modi, known for his brusque manner.
With the possibility of Modi returning to the helm of affairs in RCA, there is speculation he may again influence government decision-making.
However, Raje is cautious this time, not openly backing his bid. With most units backing Modi, she doesn’t really need to interfere.