Confident, bombastic, defiant, combative and engaging by turn, Lalit Modi is usually every mediaperson's delight. It is rare for the IPL chairman, never reticent, to not respond to questions at media conferences on any and every subject.
But Wednesday, in the aftermath of his tweets about the Kochi IPL consortium leading to a political storm and his being gagged from speaking about Kochi by BCCI president Shashank Manohar, was different.
IPL media manager Matthew Slade asked scribes to “ask questions only about the IPL Awards” just before Modi walked into the enclosure, two hours behind schedule.
All smiles at the start, Modi seemed twitchy, nervous and hesitant bare moments after he started reading out the details of the Awards.
Once the floor was thrown open, for the first four questions — all related to the IPL Awards — he played the charming host. But very soon, as questions about the Kochi controversy and Modi's close links with some of the other team owners — as detailed by HT on Tuesday —began, Modi turned into his belligerent best and probably firmly planted both feet in his mouth. Excerpts from his conference:
On not disclosing all stakeholders
In regards to all eight franchises we all know who they (the owners) are. Everybody knows who they are. They attend our conferences, they attend our meetings, but with regards to Kochi we had some question marks as to who they are. In fact, the people who presented the bid documents themselves did not know who they (the owners) were. That is why this issue has come up. Everything else is speculation. Forget about it because the agreement has been signed and it will be taken in time and will be discussed. I will call a governing council meeting to present my facts sooner than later. It will be after the IPL is over. We want to get the IPL over, the final weekend is coming up and there is a lot of work. This is a small issue for us. It is an issue nevertheless and we will deal with it.
On his frame of mind
I am absolutely fine. I have nothing to hide. I have always said that, so I am not at all perturbed by anything. Otherwise I would not be sitting here.
Did he ask Tharoor to not renew the visa of a model
Those are all frivolous (allegations). They could not find anything in a mountain and they found one little thing that we asked somebody’s visa (to be cancelled), so that they could not come in. It has not got anything to do with this at all.
At the end of the day, those people had to find something to throw at us. Let them throw something substantial. That is all I can tell you.
Why does he avoid talking about issues in public
When we sent the invites for this media conference, it was clearly mentioned that it was to announce the IPL Awards, so if you were not interested, you had every right not to attend it.