Tag Archives: Modi

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

Now Modi is Twattered too…

The nursery rhyme has been re-written:

Pitter-patter, raindrops, Falling from the sky;
Here is my umbrella, To keep me safe and dry!
When the rain is over, And the sun begins to glow,
Little flowers start to bud, And grow and grow and grow!

After the recent IPL-3 saga — termed IPL-Gate or Modi-Gate here in India — I have started singing:

Twitter Twatter, big men, Falling as they cry;
There may have been a Godfather, To keep them safe and sly!
When the pain is over, And the greed begins to slow,
Little accounts start to bud, As these Twattered men grow and grow and grow!

Twatter should be made an official word in the English dictionary.

Twatter is a disease which afflicts and consumes high-adrenalin, 40-something, adult males who are high on testosterone (some with pronounced lisps) and are going through some strange and incurable form of midlife crisis, who wish to simultaneously fit in to the glitterati jet-set and govern burgeoning complex behemoths through a modern technology called Twitter, but use it so inappropriately and naively that they shoot themselves in the foot while aiming for the stars!

It is a complex disease for which there exists no cure. Moreover, there are few test cases available and hence, few pointers to the origin of this new-age disease.

The synonyms for Twatter are Lal-oor or ShaMod.

IPL-3 ended last night. But the “end of the beginning” was just starting to unravel!

Shashi Tharoor was already Twattered by the time the IPL-3 finals was upon us. A sitting Government that had been slapped around by a young Turk with a pronounced lisp had been so badly humiliated and angered that it galvanized a series of multi-Agency, multi-pronged attacks on the IPL and its parent body, the BCCI. The speed, swiftness, meticulousness, intensity and alacrity of the Governments’ response to the outing and public slapping of its junior minister was awe-inspiring. It was as if India’s pride had been hurt by the young Turk charged with running one of the richest cricket leagues in the world! One wondered what the consequences might have been had such a multi-Agency speedy, swift, meticulous, anger- and humiliation-fueled response had been delivered when 26/11 was on us. But then perhaps the Government wasn’t as embarrassed by 26/11 as it was by the open slap to its face from a Twitter-crazy cricket Czar.

The Government was hell-bent on Twattering The Lisp out of our TV screens.

In a tit for tat operation — now known in rarefied circles as a “twit for twat” operation — both twits were twattered out of our existence, at least temporarily!

As inevitable as night follows day, the twats will twit back into our lives in some altered state. However, for now, the twats will twit no more!

It was all high-octane drama that had modern-India writ all over it.

There was innuendo, suspense, speculation, plots, sub-plots, counter-plots, actors, agents, under-world Dons, money laundering, illegal betting, mysterious ladies that no one had ever heard of, fast-paced action, sleaze, slush, plush, flush and much much more. Whats’ more? All of it was carried out at frenetic pace in full public view, in the media and in Twitter-land in an environment that displayed a total lack of reason, constructive argument and logical debate.

The words, “trial by media” has been used often in the last few days. I personally think this phrase has been abused and badly misused. First, because that would legitimize the existence of “media” in India. The “media” that does exist in India is, in my view, hardly (if ever) read, seen or heard. Second, if this is the way “trials” are conducted, then, God help this land!

Lalit Modi was served with a “show cause notice” by BCCI vice-president Rajeev Shukla shortly after the IPL-3 Finals on 25 April. Modi was sacked as Chief Commissioner of the IPL and stripped of his role in the BCCI as vice-president. The BCCI Board Secretary, N. Srinivasan sent Modi an email to confirm the “notice”. Ironically, this was just after N. Srinivasan’s team, the Chennai Super Kings, had won the IPL-3 Finals — a game that Srinivasan did not attend.

It was a neat and swift way to stop Modi from attending a meeting of the IPL Governing Council on 26 April, which he initially challenged, saying it was “unofficial and so will not attend”. He then pleaded for “five more days”. He then called the meeting himself and sent an agenda for the meeting too!

Clearly the trusted advisors around Lalit Modi had let him down.

While Shashi Tharoor was Twattered out with some dignity and grace — leaving the door ajar for a later entry — Modi was Twattered out in a somewhat humiliating manner.

The clock had turned full circle. Many years back, Modi had hounded out Jagmohan Dalmiya from the BCCI. More recently, through the formation of the IPL, he had hounded out Subhash Chandra, the creator of rebel ICL. Modi, who helped the BCCI first fight off Jagmohan Dalmiya and next, ward off the threat that Subhash Chandra’s ICL posed — through the creation of the IPL — was now, himself, Twattered out by the very “friends” he had helped.

The BCCI is a cruel place for any person. Modi’s problem was that he started believing in the myths that had been built around him without paying too much attention to the knives that were being sharpened about him.

When Lalit Modi gave his post-finals speech last night, there was an inevitability about him. One detected a sense of despair. The defiance was replaced by justification. The arrogance was replaced by anger. Although rich in self righteousness, I was happy to grant him his last hurrah! The full text of Modi’s speech is here.

Prem Panicker argues:

And the man who built a compelling league from the ground up took the stage as “commissioner under suspension” to deliver an overwrought, self-serving speech, crassly turning the focus on himself [and cloaking himself with assorted mantles ranging from Martin Luther King to Krishna] when the spotlight should have firmly been on the cricket itself.

Modi’s speech was inappropriate, but that he made it was not particularly surprising — it is the BCCI way to put itself ahead of the cricket. Remember the felicitation ceremony at the Wankhede when India returned with the World T20 Cup? The likes of RR Patil and Sharad Pawar turned the occasion into a political rally; on the dais, the front row was occupied by Pawar, Patil, Rajiv Shukla, Niranjan Shah, Modi himself, IS Bindra, PM Runga, Dilip Vengsarkar and others, while the cricketers who had against the odds won the trophy were relegated to the third row.

I was, however, quite happy to grant Modi his place in the sun for one last time. He was a BCCI mercenary who came in, did a job, made a lot of cash and then promptly fell on his own sword. He does claim that he worked tirelessly and for no remuneration. Yes! And if that is right, I am Elvis Presley’s little toe!

Today, there is sleaze money everywhere in cricket. As Prem Panicker writes, every move in Indian cricket is viewed with suspicion and cynicism.

Even Sachin Tendulkar name gets dragged in the muck that represents India’s cricket.

An IPL game was there to be won by Mumbai Indians. Tendulkar retires with cramps for the Mumbai Indians to crumble to a narrow defeat. I got calls saying that that match “must have been fixed”. In yesterdays’ game, Sachin Tendulkar sent Kieron Pollard into bat when all hope was lost. Once again, the reason offered was that the great man “must have been on the take”.

Every move in Indian cricket is viewed with suspicion and cynicism.

The governance structure around the game stinks and a quick clean up is required. The clean up will not be affected (it is just too hard in my view), but it has to be attempted.

As a fan, I just do not trust the people entrusted with the clean up act. Because it involves the BCCI and will be reported on by the “media”. So no. I believe the game and its governance will continue to be what it is.

India deserves this mess. India will continue to retain this mess.

Meanwhile, Team India will prosper because of the quality of her players. Team India has always succeeded despite the BCCI and the “media”. The game and its fans are a complete coincidence to this body and its office bearers.

In the fullness of time some other twit will be Twattered.

Until then, let us all lie back, think of the Queen and pretend we are enjoying it.

After all,
When the pain is over, And the greed begins to slow,
Little accounts start to bud, As these Twattered men grow and grow and grow

— Mohan

Team India for WC T20

As I write this, the very existence of the IPL is under a huge cloud! Shashi Tharoor, a sitting Junior Minister has resigned from his post over his “links” with the IPL Kochi franchise. The Minister’s link with the Kochi franchise was Twittered open by Lalit Modi. In doing so, Modi took on the Government of the day! He had, no doubt, won several battles in his day. But perhaps he had bitten an apple best left alone? Lalit Modi has now been summoned to New Delhi by Sharad Pawar — a Cabinet Minister and President Elect of the ICC. Speculation is rife that Modi may be pressed to submit his resignation as Commissioner of the IPL Governing Council. The sitting Government, embarassed by the hoopla surrounding its Minister, has openly ordered a series of probes on the IPL, saying “all aspects of the IPL’s operations are under scrutiny”. It is obvious to most people that life will be made hard for IPL and BCCI. Despite the immaturity of the Minister involved, few sitting Governments can take an open (and free) slap to its face easily. Perhaps Lalit Modi’s days with the IPL are numbered? Who knows?

All I know is that this was all caused as a result of a lady from the Middle East who may have been seen as a Karbonn Kamaal Catch by a junior Minister. However, the “sweat equity” that she received was siezed upon by a young Turk who exposed it thinking is was a Citi Moment of Success only to learn that when the shoe is on the other foot, the resulting DLF Max can be quite painful. Well perhaps everyone needs a Maxx Mobile Strategic Time Out?

Who says that IPL is not a soap opera?

But then, onto matters more serious!

On the day that IPL-III finished two weeks of existence, Team India’s selectors announced India’s side for the ICC World Championship T20 tournament to be held at West Indies later this year.

There were a few surprise announcements. I held off commenting on these surprises till IPL-3 had drawn to a close — or until the end was nigh. Now, with the league stage of IPL-3 concluded, I thought the time was appropriate to comment on Team India that will participate in ICC’s WCT20 in West Indies.

This article should be read with Srikanth Mangalam’s piece, which was written earlier today.

For me, the surprises were Piyush Chawla, Vinay Kumar, Yuvraj Singh, Dinesh Kartik and Rohit Sharma.

I just do not believe there was a need to announce the team 2 weeks before the team needed to be announced. Moreover, the best way to guage a players’ form is through matches. So, given that IPL-3 was still ongoing and had a few more weeks to run, was there a compelling need to rush into team selection? Perhaps not. But then, that is exactly what the selectors did. In their haste, I feel they may have made a few mistakes.

Mind you, I do think that this team is good. With Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh bowling as well as they are and with Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni batting as well as they are, anything is possible if the Gambhir-Sehwag opening combination clicks — which it invariably does when they put on India colours! Throw in Yuvraj Singh, Rohit Sharma, Yusuf Pathan and Ashish Nehra and what you have is a really decent outfit.

The team in possible batting order is:

Virender Sehwag
Gautam Gambhir
Suresh Raina
Yuvraj Singh
MS Dhoni
Rohit Sharma
Yusuf Pathan / Ravindra Jadeja
Harbhajan Singh / Piyush Chawla
Zaheer Khan
Vinay Kumar / Praveen Kumar
Ashish Nehra

DRINKS: Dinesh Karthik

There are a few problems with this team, in my view:

  • Virender Sehwag has not been in the best of form for Delhi Daredevils. That said, he has to be a part of the team unless he has just one leg, one hand and one strand of hair left on his head! He is a must in any Team India.
  • Yuvraj Singh may well prove me wrong, but I just do not feel he should have been a part of this team. He has had a spate of injuries which he has perhaps not fully recovered from. Moreover, in my view, his performance in IPL-3 was totally sulk-induced as a result of his demotion as captian of KXIP. And for a serious and senior cricketer, this is perhaps not quite professional enough. His non-selection may have sent a much stronger message than his demotion as KXIP captain. I am not suggesting that Yuvraj Singh may have deliberately under-performed. No. I am suggesting, as I did at the very start of IPL-3, that I could see a BYSS (Big Yuvraj Sized Sulk) sulk around the corner. He did!
  • While I have no doubt that Rohit Sharma is an immensely talented cricketer, there have been a few other batsmen in IPL-3 that have perhaps put in much stronger performances in IPL-3. In particular, I think Robin Uthappa and M. Vijay will feel that they had done enough to be on that plane to West Indies.
  • Piyush Chawla is the biggest surprise, in my view. As Srikanth Mangalam said in his piece, spinners like Pragyan Ojha, Amit Mishra and even Shadab Jakati have bowled better that Piyush Chawla! I am not sure where Piyush Chawla picks up his lottery tickets, but if everyone in India picks up their lotto tickets from where Chawla does, the Indian lottery system would be broke before it opened for business! He is not a bad bowler. There are just better guys going around right now!
  • Vinay Kumar was another surprise pick for me. He has looked good, no doubt and has put in a strong IPL-3 performance after a solid domestic season. I have no real qualms with his pick. He is perhaps there as cover for when Praveen Kumar goes “pear shaped”.
  • And finally, I get to my favourite topic of Dinesh Kartik! Apart from ensuring that this article gets at least one response/comment from a certain person from Bangalore in support of Kartik’s inclusion, I really do not know what this man does to get included in every Team India! Is he there as cover for MS Dhoni? Is he there as a batsman cover for Rohit Sharma? If it is the former, then that is quite fine by me. If he is there as a batsman cover for Rohit Sharma, then, surely Robin Uthappa is a better bet? Especially since Uthappa can ‘keep wickets too in case Dhoni gets injured? I just give up where Kartik’s repeated inclusion is concerned. I want to believe that it has more to do than the fact that he is from Tamil Nadu. But then all roads point to that for me!

All in all, I think this is a good team. However, I would have been happier if Robin Uthappa, Murali Vijay and Pragyan Ojha (or Amit Mishra) were included instead of Dinesh Kartik, Yuvraj Singh and Piyush Chawla.

— Mohan

New look BCCI…

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has a new look to it. It has a new President, a newish set of office bearers and a new website — http://www.bcci.tv!

BCCI’s website was launched quietly during the week. Incidentally, BCCI, the worlds’ richest cricket board, is the last of the ICC member country cricket boards to get its own website! It is actually quite an informative website, if one has an interest in State cricket associations and the like. Yesterday, the site had quite a few glitches. These seem to have been sorted out. For example, West Zone was declared as the zone “Abutting the Arabic Sea”. Arabic? Today, it reads, “West Zone: Abutting the Arabian Sea”. What has a butt got to do with it? I have problems with arcane english usage, I guess! It presents the Memorandum of Association of the BCCI, if one is interested in such matters. The landing page has video clips from “The Greatest Series”. No prizes for guessing that this features Australia in India in 2001! Good for a read and about time too.

Shashank Manohar, a self-proclaimed “benevolent dictator” is the new BCCI President. He steps in as Sharad Pawar steps up to take on the ICC Presidency when David Morgan vacates that chair soon.

Kris Srikkanth has assumed control of the new “paid” selection committee as its chairman. He is joined by Yashpal Sharma (North), Raja Venkat (East), Surendra Bhave (West), Narendra Hirwani (Central), with N. Srinivasan as Secretary/Convenor.

Fortunately, we will stop receiving sound bytes (bites) from Niranjan Shah. Now in case you missed his last pearl, I reproduce it below! Just 2 days prior to handing over the reigns to Srinivasan, Niranjan Shan dropped this beauty on us unsuspecting souls when urging Team India seniors to announce their retirement plans to BCCI! Shah said:

“The senior players, who can be phased out in two or three years, should make their own (retirement) plans and inform the BCCI or selection committee. Like Rahul (Dravid) had done when quitting India captaincy. Like Anil (Kumble) did when retiring from ODIs.”

That statement was somewhat harmless, given that it came from Niranjan Shah! However, he did not disappoint us with his usual foray into clanger-territory! He proceeded to say that it was not practical in India for the selectors to ask a player about his retirement plans. That’s right! It was not practical! The exact quote:

“It’s not possible in India for the selectors to ask players about their retirement plans which may lead to arguments.”

Phew! Now that is the reason then! Clearly we need selectors that love arguments then!

For those that thought that we had seen the last of Niranjan Shah, there is, however, some bad news. He is going to stick around. Niranjan Shah has been named Vice-Chairman of the now-influential IPL Governing Council! While Lalit Modi has been retained as Chair of the IPL Governing Council, there are suggestions that Niranjan Shah is there to hover around as a shadow in case the young turk gets too far ahead of himself! All of these speculations are fuelled by Modi’s recent generosity towards the visiting Australians. Modi, a good friend of Guru Greg Chappell, invited the Australians to use the extensive and impressive training facilities at the Rajasthan Cricket Association a full week before the official start of the Australia tour of India. This has set the proverbial cat amonst a colony of some confused pigeons who don’t quite know what to do! The easiest thing to do was, presumably, to aim and fire at the host who extended the generous hospitality.

Another pointer to a suggestion that Lalit Modi has been slapped on the wrist is that Sharad Pawar has assumed chairmanship of the influential Marketing Committee, a post that Modi had held with some panache.

Will any of this make a dent in India’s chances against the visiting Australians? Will any of this make a difference to cricket in India? We don’t know, but if past committees are anything to go by, I will not be holding my breath in a tearing hurry!

— Mohan