Former IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi second interview
It is the theater of the absurd, more so as most of it is playing out on television screens. Former IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi has emerged as the most powerful man in India currently with the capacity to silence governments, including the Prime Minister, place Ministers and Chief Ministers he befriends in the dock, and have the Opposition at the BJP’s jugular even while he dares the Enforcement Directorate to take action against him.
Perhaps the most telling visual of all was the second interview that Lalit Modi gave to the India Today television channel where he turned from the interviewer, looked directly into the camera, and pointing at the Enforcement Directorate in India from his secure perch in London, dramatically challenged them to act against him. And questioned the department of the Ministry of Finance as to why it had not seized the passports of the additional 16 persons named for corruption, and what it was planning to do about them. He dared the government to make the Justice Mudgal report public. This committee probed the IPL scam.
“ I am creating the world’s biggest reality TV show…. It has just begun. It is called Lalitgate,” he said as his first response to the said interview. And from then on it was sheer drama again with Lalit Modi, as the chief protagonist, giving sufficient bytes and color too, as he says, world television. And, certainly, Indian television channels that have been on this story, to the exclusion of all else happening throughout the country and across the globe, for over two weeks now.
He has now posted a video released by India Today as the first item on his page. That needs to be seen to get an idea of how he looks at himself.
Lalit Modi ensured that his first interview was given from Montenegro, against the beautiful background of the sea. And through his tweets, and blog, as well as these interviews, establish himself as a man who is brash, unconcerned, cheerful and happy. He insists he is innocent over and over again, and keeps speaking of the game that has only just begun. In this, repetition lies his real potential, as a result of which governments are reluctant to move against him even as his innuendoes, and barbs fly all over the place at this stage.
Lalit Modi was the man who knew it all. He was in the thick of the IPL world of glamour, sleaze, money where favours were asked for and bestowed, where bids were made and re-made under new clauses, where the money talked about stretched into thousands of crores. And were by the end of it, he was the authoritarian figure from the centre, taking decisions without even bothering to consult the IPL Governing Council as teams were bought and sold, and new franchises tendered at the drop of a hat.
The list of those involved is a proverbial list of who’s who in the world of politics, Bollywood, and of course Cricket. The crony-ism was very visible, with deep friendships struck overnight, and the fallings out as dramatic. For instance, Lalit Modi himself was very friendly with Vasundhara Raje, followed by a public spat, and then clearly a making up when she supported him for the UK residency. Facts and rumours meshed in those heady days into a heady brew, with rivalries costing jobs, and as Lalit Modi now insists, influencing enquiries. In the midst of this Lalit, Modi stood out, and perhaps there are a few truths in his allegation that he had to be silenced because he knew too much. He says if he comes back to India, he will be “bumped” off, and in the process has covered himself with a cloak of intrigue, subterfuge and “hint” documents that the media is salivating to Get. He is seen as a meticulous goes getter, and journalists these days are betting on the odds in his favour. In that he has the documents on most of the players at the time, or so he has allowed people to believe, with the 250 page dossier that has got Raje into serious trouble being seen as just a “taste” of things to come.
The politicians involved in the big cricket league include Congress party’s Rajiv Shukla, NCP’s strongman Sharad Pawar, Prime Minister Narendra Modi albeit briefly, himself, Shashi Tharoor, who has paid a price with the Damocles sword still hanging over him, former Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah to name just a few. Big corporations helped buy the teams, and give or return favours, with the odds of Modi being in the know seems to be rather high. He of course, keeps stoking the fires with his statements about more to come.
He is a consummate poker player, bluff and bluster with or without having the cards. Only he knows. Lalit Modi has managed to keep all on tenterhooks, as he holds the key to many a locker literally perhaps. But certainly figuratively. Currently, he is the chief protagonist of this world’s biggest reality show, with the world watching for his next move. He has managed to hog the headlines for two weeks in running in India and for the initial days across the globe, silence an otherwise vocal Prime Minister, sharpen the rifts within the Bharatiya Janata Party, and position himself at a vantage point where only he knows the next move, no one else. And who knows how many are quaking for within, waiting for the next expose by the man who now is describing himself in tweets as the “whistle blower!”