Lalit Modi’s win in the RCA elections has triggered speculation about the London-based erstwhile IPL commissioner’s return to India and eventually to the BCCI fold. Even Modi, calling his RCA win a stepping stone, sounded optimistic about walking in the corridors of cricket administration again. “I will be back soon. As and when the Indian government changes we will see. In 10 days’ time the election results will be out, so we never know how soon I will be back,” he told espncricinfo in London.
Modi did go on to say that he would have a tough fight at hand to find a place for himself in a board ruled by his old foe N Srinivasan. Though, BCCI observers say that Srinivasan happens to be just one of the several obstacles that are placed before Modi.
With Enforcement Directorate issuing a Blue Corner notice against him, Modi, on his arrival in India, can be detained at the airport for questioning. This comes with risk of being a caught in a lengthy investigation process that can drag on for years. But Modi is an old hand at cricket’s off-the-field battles.
His first foray into cricket administration came about in 2004 when he ended the long reign of the Rungtas at the helm of RCA. Modi’s win was made possible by a freshly updated Sports Act which governs the RCA’s constitution. BJP’s Vasundhara Raje Scindia was the CM when the amended Act scrapped the voting rights of individual members, most of whom were Rungta loyalists and allowed only the district representatives to choose the RCA executive committee. With Raje back in power, Modi’s old backers from the districts are hopeful that the tide has turned in their favour now.
However, RCA insiders say that as is the case in most cricketing bodies across the country, the politician-cricket administrator equation in Rajasthan isn’t as simple as it is made out by the Modi camp. “One should remember that he has rubbed Arun Jaitely (senior BJP leader and an influential voice in the BCCI) the wrong way and he also does not get along too well with Anurag Thakur (BJP leader and BCCI joint-secretary). Even if there is a change in the government, Modi’s return back home is not confirmed,” said an old member in know of cricketing politics in Jaipur.
Modi’s legal counsel Mehmood M Abdi, who was also elected as the deputy president of the RCA, hinted that the once-powerful cricket administrator might adopt a wait and watch approach as of now.
“Modi will be running RCA through his executive committee. It is a shrinking world and lot of the work is done through video conferencing,” he said. So when will Modi take the flight to India? Abdi remains non-committal. I expect Modi to be back when the security situation improves,” he says.