A VIP Defense, For Brutus is an honourable man…


So along very expected lines and according to a script that seldom varies, the BCCI is washing its dirty linen, in public! Again!

One should not expect anything more from an organisation that does not demonstrate an ability to spell professionalism, let alone live and breathe it! This time, Lalit Modi has taken on BCCI’s top-brass in a very public manner.

I must admit that my admiration for this man Lalit Modi just continues to grow. The man seems to possess more aces up his sleeve than a crook card pack can hold! My admiration for him is not because I like his method or his madness or his reported greed. Those are qualities that make me cringe. But I admire him because he has already demonstrated that he is a visionary who is prepared to take risks and pursue a seemingly treacherous path that is littered with land-mines. I admire him because he pursues these dreams with dedication, energy, passion, fire and focus. I admire the fact that he is bold. He is brave. And he is up for a fight. He does not insipre me to be like him but I do admire what he has achieved.

Essentially I admire him because he is a feisty guy, which is good (given the environment he operates in), but there’s a lot about him that I don’t want to like.

Donald Trump once said, “In business, when things aren’t working it’s time to mix it up.” I believe Lalit Modi has done just that. He has mixed it up. And how!

His latest salvo was fired today when he served a reverse show-cause notice on Shashank Manohar, President of BCCI and N. Srinivasan, Secretary of BCCI. He has asked that the two key adversaries in the BCCI show cause notice against him recuse themselves from the BCCI disciplinary committee and chronicles quite clearly and quite cleverly why that should happen. Incidentally, the BCCI President chairs the disciplinary committee and the BCCI Secretary, Srinivasan, convenes it!

Brilliant!

The full text of his 14-page letter to the BCCI is presented here.

First, he trains his sights on N. Srinivasan, the Secretary of the BCCI, becuase in my view Srinivasan forms “easy pickings”! The man’s case has enough holes to warrant being a highway for trucks to drive through!

The fact that N. Srinivasan, one of the BCCI Secretaries is conflicted is known and documented — by me and several others more qualified to comment on this than I! If I were the owner of a franchise like Royal Challengers Bangalore, say, I would have reason to be very worried that a competitor of mine was on the Governing Council of the league that I am pouring a fair bit of investment into. I would perhaps be worried that my competitor would have means and the wherewithal to alter the course of the construction of the competition in a beneficial manner, to suit his or her team over mine! These are legitimate conflicts of interest and one needs transparency and clear governance principles to guard against such abuse potential.

Modi has claimed — with evidence — that bidding rules in the initial player auction were altered under pressure from Srinivasan to benefit the BCCI Secretary’s team. This is a serious allegation of trying to deliver his team, The Chennai Super Kings (CSK) an undue advantage by virtue of his position on the Governing Council of the IPL!

And this is exactly the theme of Lalit Modi’s second rocket, in which he alleges — with some proof no less — that N. Srinivasan tried to alter the allocation of umpires for CSK games. He has claimed in his “counter show cause notice” against the BCCI Secretary that this is tantamount to match- or result-fixing.

Very clever!

He further states that Srinivasan used his influence on the Governing Council to push for a retention of a certain number of players in the re-auction of players for IPL-4. In other words, the “conflict of interest” case that I have talked about early on (and in the previous paragraphs) is exactly what Modi has penned down quite cleverly in his attack on Srinivasan.

I am surprised that no one else recognizes this conflict at the BCCI! However, it appears from Lalit Modi’s counter charge that there is more to it than just the surface level conflict of interest.

Moreover, Lalit Modi has stated that there is a documented evidence of persecution by Srinivasan of him and his designs for IPL and the BCCI.

Essentially, what Modi has done is he has mounted a clever attack prior to self-defense. He has cast enough of an aspersion and a character assassination of one of the key people gunning for him on the disciplinary committee that will hear his case! His attempt is to sideline his principal detractor in the BCCI, N. Srinivasan.

Second, Lalit Modi trains his sights on the BCCI President, Shashank Manohar. While Lalit Modi’s attack against Srinivasan was direct, bullish, head-on and while it showed his street-fighter qualities, his attack on Shashank Manohar is subtle and sarcasm-loaded. Moreover, his case against Manohar is not really water tight. So he borrows from schools of illusion and sarcasm to build a case here!

He has borrowed heavily from the Mark Anthony school of attack here.

Right at the outset, for example, he states in his letter: “I am sure that the Hon. President, being an eminent lawyer of great reputation, would appreciate that, although it is me who is on trial, however, in a manner of speaking it is the Board itself, which is on trial.” This is along the tried and tested “For Brutus is an Honorable Man” school of argument. Next, he throws the gauntlet by stating that unless Shashank Manohar and N. Srinivasan excuse themselves from the disciplinary hearing and unless there is a clear demonstration of the principles of natural justice and fair play, the Board will be the loser. He identifies his cause with that of the Board and indicates that the Board itself is on trial!

Lalit Modi trains his sights on the BCCI President, Shashank Manohar through two main activities: (a) cancellation of the team-tender process on March 5 2010, and (b) the role of Manohar’s own hand-picked legal counsel for the BCCI, Akhila Kaushik. By mixing up these two — somewhat un-related events — he has created enough of an illusion to suggest Manohar’s complicity!

He cites a particularly damning episode of the recently concluded IPL auction and proceeds to allege that Shashank Manohar’s actions are somewhat broader than the straight-and-narrow in the aborted initial IPL tendering process for teams 9 and 10.

He proceeds to indicate that he would, therefore, like to interrogate the current BCCI President in responding to his own show-cause notice! The case for Shashank Manohar’s removal from the BCCI Disciplinary Committee is that, since Modi would like to interrogate Shashank Manohar as a witness, the person cannot perform an unbiased role as judge, complainant and witness in the same case!

Again, very clever. But the manner in which Lalit Modi — with much help from clever legal brains, no doubt — achieves his objectives is neat.

It was clear when the first tender process was aborted that something wasn’t quite right. I wrote at the time and suggested that there must be more to it than meets the eye! There clearly was.

Modi claims that when Shashi Tharoor’s office wanted to submit a late bid for Kochi in the original bid that closed on 5th March 2010, he himself did not want to accept it, even though Manohar, the BCCI President wanted Lalit Modi to “anti time” (sic!) the bid.

In a style that is reminiscent of the “For Brutus is an honorable man” school of Mark Anthony style rhetorical and sarcasm-loaded defense, Modi then states “You seemed to be under extreme pressure to ensure that the late bid be included in the bidding process. Since you failed to ensure that the bid could not be included you then decided to ensure that the bid process itself is cancelled.…I appreciate that due to involvement of a Cabinet Minister you had to do things which knowing you I believe you would not do in the normal course.”

In other words, “Shashank Manohar is an honourable man and would not have otherwise acted in the way he did, but for the extreme duress he was under.”

This was straight from Mark Anthony school: “I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke. But here I am to speak what I do know.”

He then proceeds to state that the contractual documents for the Sony MSM deal as well as the team auctions were vetted — nay, even prepared — by Shashank Manohar’s own hand-picked lawyer Akhila Kaushik. Therefore, the picture that Lalit Modi paints is that he was innocently following the instructions of the BCCI President! This again follows the classic Mark Anthony style of rhetorically sarcastic defense!

There is an illusory syllogism at play here. What he is essentially trying to say is (a) The bid documents may have been wrong, (b) They were prepared by a person hand-picked by you because they used to work for your fathers’ legal firm, (c) I was therefore, merely following orders!

Somewhat brilliant in my view.

Having achieved the aims of sidelining his two main adversaries on the disciplinary panel, Lalit Modi proceeds to make a case for judicial disqualification — or recusal — of the two main men in the game.

In this reckless chess game, he has used a ruthless and all-out public attack — of reputation as well as professional integrity — for the first time.

And this forms the bases of what I will call the “VIP Defense”, where VIP stands for that popular brand of underwear and the analogy with washing dirty linen in public is complete.

Who knows what the denouement will be in this potentially nasty saga? But things promise to get interesting before they get even better!

Meanwhile, let us hold our noses as the VIP Defense unfolds!

— Mohan

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6 responses to “A VIP Defense, For Brutus is an honourable man…

  1. The Shakespeare angle to this is very interesting. Good work.

  2. Nice work Mohan. I think the holes in his attack on Manohar will be exposed. But you are right, his strategy is to undermine his detractors.

  3. Mohan — Perhaps, this is the last ace up Modi’s sleeve. Once the dirty laundry is out in public, there is no going back and Modi knows it. So, if he has played this move, perhaps this could be the last desperate “I’m clutching to straws here” attempt by him to have the BCCI back off of him and reconcile with him. Although, I must add it is indeed a brave move on his part. As much as I have admired Modi for setting up the IPL and making it in to a cash cow, he is not a “visionary”, he saw what others also saw – the business opportunity but had the nous to push for it.

    Regarding N. Srinivasan being in position to manipulate things like umpires by the fact that he was the BCCI secretary (while owning a team in the IPL), were the other franchises so blind by the opportunity to rake in profits that they were willing to ignore such conflicts of interest? If they were, they deserve everything that comes their way, good or bad.

  4. This whole thing is convoluted. Even Modi is severely conflicted, in my view. Right from the first IPL, most of the in-stadia advertising contracts at major stadiums were awarded (in a closed process) to Modi’s father’s company…There are many more cases where Modi had his hands deep in the moolah. Basically, everybody out there was having a party and raking in the money…damn the rules, integrity or interests!!

  5. @couch

    I dont think this is Modi’slast throw of the dice. In my view, and having read his recusal letter to the BCCI, I am convinced that the man has just started and is in warm-up mode. As I write in conclusion, this whole gig is starting to get interesting before they get even better!

    We can agree to disagree on whether or not he is a “visionary” or not. That is a moot point in this current debate anyway and so, is irrelevant.

    The other franchise owners were probably aware of the conflict, but when was the last time anyone tried taking on the BCCI? If I were them I’d wait for the man to be down before even thinking of sharpening my knife 🙂

    You bet they would be reaching for their knife-cabinet now!

    @Shankar

    Sure even Modi is conflicted, but that is not really the point in his 14-page counter-show-cause notice really. His ploy is to sideline his adversaries and secure an independent panel in order to secure a fair trial and natural justice.

  6. Yousuf pathan is an opener but he is not getting opening place , he is dangerous player like sehwag but he do not get the opportunity to bat as an opener as DHONI and his friend RAINA do not want that he got the permanent seat in INDIAN TEAM , he got the opportunity of just 5 balls in the first match against zimbabwe as every one know that he is capable to destroy the zimbabwe so he get only 5 balls in the first match , and in the second match against srilanka he did not get the opportunity and in the third match he again get the position of number 8 player as this is just like that Indian team do not want him , they are promoting ravinder jadeja to show him superior than pathan .

    Just ask one question is there only one muslim is able to come in INDIAN TEAM out of 100 CRORE people .

    IRFAN pathan can bowl and can bat more batter than dinesh karthik, ravinder jadeja, and many other players but he do not get the oppotunity because he is also a MUSLIM

    Indian Cricket is doing the partiality in selection, they are just removing good players as they are MUSLIM , and it is their just a you can say MAJBOORI that is why they just include only one player as yusuf pathan and do not give the oppotunity to play many time .

    They today give him the opportunity on 4th place when they are in trouble against srilanka as srilanka bowlers are very good they wanted to get yusuf out cheaply but he made valuable 44 runs ,

    whenever the strong team comes or any danger comes they give the pathan in the front and when any weak team comes they just do not give the opportunity to him as he is muslim

    every body know the ability of yusuf but here in INDIAN team he is not getting support as he get in the IPL from shane warne , shane warne give him the confidence to play as he wants to play but here in INDIAN TEAM first he did not get the opportunity , once he get the opportunity , he always get the strong bowlers only.

    90% of the times you will see that he got runout by the mistake of his own partner . this is not a mistake , this is to grade down the yusuf

    write your comments on what you say.

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