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Spoilt Sport

 

Satya Pal Singh. Editorial.VI.XVIII.XV

 

 

IPL’s CORROSIVE (BRAT)MAN:


 

LALIT MODI



Satya Pal Singh-fnbworld By Satya Pal Singh

 

IPL Logo-fnbworld

 

Lalit Modi (center) - fnbworld

 

This youthful IPL genius called Lalit Modi, who opened new vistas to his soaring cricketing ambition and explored much richer, higher ground for aspiring cricketers the world over, thereby adding a new leaf to the volume of Indian sport, is now proving too corrosive right to the portals of governance in the country. From the ugly betting saga to money laundering, IPL has not only taken a heavy toll of the proverbial sport spirit, but has also hit the political system with impunity. On the bloc at present are two BJP stalwarts, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje. Her young son, Dushyant Singh, BJP MP, is the latest addition to the alleged Modigate trail...No one knows who will appear on the altar next!


Sushma Swaraj-fnbworldVasundhara Raje
Scindia-fnbworld

 

Both the BJP leaders would be life-time lucky if they survive the tempest caused by their patently wayward acts in extending uncalled for help to this fugitive who is known to be insensitively playing with the Indian law. While Swaraj is in the midst of a storm for helping Modi with his travel documents to Portugal, Raje is said to have backed his UK immigration application with a witness statement, along with a "secrecy" rider.  


Lalit Modi revealed to a magazine that Raje not only gave a written statement for his UK residency, but also accompanied his ailing wife for treatment.... "My wife was being taken to Portugal by Mrs Vasundhara Raje. Nobody knows that, I am putting that on record now...she accompanied my wife Minal in 2012 and 2013." She openly agreed to be a witness, Modi revealed, adding that "unfortunately by the time the case went to trial, she was already Chief Minister, so she did not come to become a witness...The statements she gave are all on records in the courts." The document had a confidentiality clause in which Raje backed Lalit Modi's case, but did not want it to be revealed to Indian authorities. It was apparently due to mutual trust that Raje never thought of verifying Modi's claims. Raje, however, feigns ignorance about any document...and that makes her position entirely untenable and invites pejoratives. 


Keith Vaz-fnbworldTop Media baron Rupert
Murdoch-fnbworld

 

Claiming that he had known Swaraj's family for 20 years, Lalit Modi has embroiled many more politicians in the controversy: "Sharad Pawar, Praful Patel and Rajiv Shukla also helped him get travel documents.. Shashi Tharoor lied and lost his job."


Sharad Pawar-fnbworld

Lalit Modi claimed that he had been "wronged by the previous UPA govt...I have been a victim of UPA’s political vendetta and accused former Finance Minister P Chidambaram of “arm-twisting the UK government into denying him residency...then, I did ask Sushma’s help,” he said adding that he would have made a similar plea to any other External Affairs Minister in office. Modi also accused the BCCI committee, led by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, that held him guilty of wrongdoing in the running of the IPL and gave him no opportunity to defend himself. “They knew they were in the wrong...I face serious risk to my life in India, and that is the reason I am not coming to India." He also challenged the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to prove any charge against him, admitting in the same breath to his close ties with the families of both Swaraj and Raje : "I had appealed to the BJP leaders for help as my wife was down with cancer.”


While senior leaders, with vast legislative and administrative experience to their credit, the actions of the two leaders in directly or indirectly helping the economic offender, even if with "good intentions on humanitarian ground" become even more serious and incriminating. In straight words, they don't pass litmus test of unimpeachable integrity with respect to the positions of top political executives.


This is not to say that the two are corrupt or that they willfully indulged in 'conflict of interest' with the intent to win favors from a rich tycoon who has for long maintained close links with them and their families. Both Swaraj and Raje are facing opposition onslaught for helping the fugitive who has been living in UK since May 2010. Sushma, her husband Swaraj Kaushal and daughter Bansuri, have been Lalit Modi's close family friends and counsels in his several cases of alleged financial irregularities versus the Indian state. Her Congress critics, even complain that her kin have been enjoying the fugitive's 'beneficence' in London while on their private tours in recent past. Swaraj herself is said to have met Lalit Modi in a London hotel in Ocober 2014.


Rajiv Shukla-fnbworld

And now evidence comes to light that Lalit Modi invested Rs 11.63 crore in Dushyant Singh's  company, Niyant Heritage Hotels Pvt Ltd, in 2008. An ongoing ED probe into Modi's business transactions reveals that he paid Dushyant, a BJP MP from Jhalawar-Baran, this whopping sum as investment. Of this, Rs 3.80 crore was a loan for the company and the rest was used to acquire 815 shares. A newspaper quotes ED as saying that this is an unusual price for the shares at Rs 10 at a premium of Rs 96,180 each. So, if the DLF boss could do this for Robert Vadra, why not Lalit could do the same for Dushyant? The MP, however, claims that "the decision to allot shares at a premium was a prudent business decision, based on proper valuation and also taking into account the future potential of the company."


Political analysts are now wondering why Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who saw Sushma as his bete noire within BJP at the time big fight ensued over his pre-poll nomination for the top job, is not utilizing this controversy to get rid of her and convincingly establish, in the process, his credibility as an ultimate marksman of transparency and probity in public life. Why did the PM choose to put the entire cabinet on her iron-curtain defence? Many explain this attitude differently, but the most  intelligible explanation could be that PM doesn't want to lose an efficient and delivering Foreign Minister. At the same time, he wins the Council of Ministers' accolade for being a strong-willed boss who instinctively protects his colleagues against all "charges of superficial nature."


Party patriarch L K Advani is the man extremely tense today for the simple reason that he doesn't want to lose a staunch supporter in the govt and the party. It would be a terrific blow for the octogenarian leader who himself, along with M M Joshi, had been shown the doors, albeit indirectly, for being too old (above 75) for shouldering any loaded responsibilities. But Advani's silence is intriguing, even though he remains apparently vexed inside. Maybe, he doesn't want to irritate Modi by siding with either of them, or both. The patriarch is quietly waiting if he can make it to the presidential throne after Pranab Mukherjee demits office.


As the Congress protests continue demanding dismissal of both Sushma and Raje, BJP leadership seems clear that there is no case for action at least against the Foreign Minister. Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad says, "The govt sees just a compassionate intervention" by Swaraj in helping Lalit Modi... "But just prefer to wait for details with regard to the controversy over the Rajasthan CM". Analysts find Vasundhara's culpability worth taking serious note of, just because she wanted to keep her act beyond the gaze of authorities.


It also came to light that the emails detailing Sushma's friendly intervention for Modi were leaked by media tycoon Rupert Murdoch who often resorts to unconventional means to access news. How did he manage to get the trail of emails concerning the help Swaraj and British politician Keith Vaz extended to Modi is another question. Ministers, bureaucrats and diplomats must know nothing remains secret in today's world of rapid communication systems and the rampant unethical practices being resorted to with the intent to make slush money.


This ugly (or not so ugly) episode calls for some serious work to keep sports away from the hold of politicians. Political control was initially considered essential because sportsmen indulged in corrupt practices freely. However, something needs to be done to check the top-level corruption in sports. Cricket, for instance, is a gentlemen's game and money flows like water here. Cricketers who make crores of rupees every year still feel they need more by way of corrupt practices. How to stop this rot forever remains debatable. There seems no end to this greed. In this situation, it remains doubtful if sport and politics will ever become separate.

 

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