Modi not ready to give up yet, gets franchise support (Lead)

April 24th, 2010 - 7:10 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi/Mumbai, April 24 (IANS) Indian Premier League (IPL) chairman and commissioner Lalit Modi has left his governing council (GC) in a quandary by assuring it that he would quit, but not before refuting “unsubstantiated charges” hurled at him by some of his colleagues as well as investigative agencies.
A Modi sympathiser in the cricket board says all that Modi wants is a few more days to prepare his defence as the list of charges is spiralling at an alarming speed.

Hectic discussions were on in Mumbai right through the day, with messengers and messages running to and fro to find an amicable solution to the crisis triggered off in the wake of Kochi winning the bid for one of the two new franchisees at the auction March 21.

Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) chief Shashank Manohar was closeted with BCCI secretary N. Srinivasan, IPL vice chairman Niranjan Shah and Chief Administrative Officer Ratnakar Shetty on the strategy to be adopted at Monday’s council meeting.

The board big-wigs are expected to meet International Cricket Council president-elect Sharad Pawar later in the evening to decide whether Modi should be given time to explain his conduct.

Most of the other council members are expected to reach Mumbai either Saturday night or Sunday morning.

The hawks in the council are adamant that Modi should not be allowed to have his say, but at the same time, saner voices say that justice and fairplay demands the flamboyant commissioner be given an opportunity to explain his position now that he has agreed to bow out.

The GC members fear that Modi might do a Tharoor by presenting his case before the media if he is not allowed to do so in the council. Tharoor, who quit as junior foreign minister, read out his statement to the media outside Parliament House when he was not allowed to speak in the Lok Sabha.

Modi has asked time till May 1 to reply to the questions raised by the GC members and government agencies. His not going to a court of law to get the meeting stayed and was seen by some members as a gesture that needs to be reciprocated by the GC.

Manohar is in no mood to give any quarter to Modi and even his predecessor and Union Agriculture Minister Pawar was unable to presuade him to relent.

Pawar brokered the deal by prevailing upon Modi to quit. Modi then appealed to his friends-turned-foes in the board to consider the work he had put in for five years to make IPL a global feautre and accede to his request for a mere five days time to prove his innocence.

The BCCI is also in bind with a couple of franchisee owners publicly coming out in support of Modi and some others in private.

Bangalore Royal Challengers owner Vijay Mallya and Kings XI Punjab stake holder Preity Zinta expressed their unhappiness at the way Modi is being treated. Both felt that Modi should be given an opportunity to explain his position.

Another GC member and union Minister for New and Renewable Energy Farooq Abdullah said the Modi issue should not be “pre-judged” and that law should be allowed to take its course.

“I do not think anybody will get away. Investigations are on. Let’s not pre-judge who is going to be caught and who is not going to be caught…..anybody who is guilty, law will take its own course,” Abdullah told a TV channel.

“I must say in his favour that he brought IPL to this level where it is today. Suddenly, we have all realised that there is something like IPL and India got the biggest name for this. And the amount of money, BCCI earned from this..that is how we are able to make stadia in different parts of the country”.

Asked whether he has a soft corner for Modi, Abdullah said, “I have soft corner for cricket in India”.

Abdullah said he will not be attending the meeting as he has his work in Parliament.

Mallya said Modi should be given opportunity to explain himself.

“This whole controversy has become an unnecessary toofan. Yes, there may be some questions about the way in which IPL runs. Clearly some governing council members may not be happy. Let all that be properly investigated. But to rubbish the IPl as a league then start casting aspersions on owners, alleging black money involvement, alleging funds from tax havens. I think this is stretching things way way too far,” he said.

Zinta was furious with the media on Twitter for basing their reports on assumptions. She was livid with a Mumbai daily for linking Modi with her Punjab team.

“Good Morning! Woke up to another false and baseless article stating Lalit Modi owns a stake in KXIP through Akash Aroura! Pls get ur …facts right & worry about lawsuits 4 writing nonsense. Akash Aurora is my close friend & he only attended IPL 2 support me,” she tweeted.

She added: “Sad how ill-informed r media can b following a herd mentality! Who is going to question them & ask 4 accountability 4 ruining peoples names?”

“Will the real journalists and respectable publications pls stand up! We all want the truth not assumptions made and disguised as d truth!” Preity wrote.

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