A hotel bill amounting to Rs 1.56 crore that the BCCI refused to pay in 2010 tells the story of IPL’s Lalit Modi days, with a guest list including top politicians such as Vasundhara Raje of the BJP and Shashi Tharoor of the Congress.
From January 1 to April 30, 2010, the IPL chairman made the ‘Club’ suite (Room No 9132) of the Four Seasons Hotel in Mumbai his base, instead of operating from the BCCI office in the same city.
Raje and Tharoor, who had no direct connection to cricket at that point, stayed at the hotel during the IPL with the expenses billed to the league. Raje stayed in a Deluxe Sea View Room (No 3202) on March 11 and checked out on March 13. Her room was charged Rs 19, 719.
Tharoor, meanwhile, stayed in the Deluxe Sea View Room (No 1906) on March 12, checking out the next morning. His room was charged Rs 25,612. The IPL season opener was on March 12 at the DY Patil Stadium in New Mumbai.
Swaraj Kaushal, the husband of BJP’s senior leader Sushma Swaraj, too finds a mention in the bill with his day’s stay billed to IPL at Rs 13,163.38. While Swaraj confirmed his stay at Four Seasons, Tharoor and Vasundhara didn’t respond to queries from The Indian Express.
When asked about the bill, Smriti Khandelwal, director of marketing, Four Seasons Hotel, Mumbai, said, “We as a hotel have privacy policies that govern us and hence we shall not be in a position to disclose the information as requested.”
The bill, first reported by The Indian Express, also shows the presence of designer Tarun Tahiliani at Four Seasons along with a number of luminaries from across the globe, including maharanis, world-famous photographers, stand-up comics, top lawyers, art entrepreneurs, beauty queens, models and security experts.
Modi has been billed for a little over Rs 1 crore for the two rooms he booked for himself during the four-month period.
The bills, though marked to the IPL, weren’t honoured by the BCCI. The Four Seasons Hotel subsequently sent a detailed bill to the BCCI under the label ‘Mr Lalit Modi and his guests’.
M P Pandove, the BCCI treasurer at the time, confirmed that the board received the bill, and that it wasn’t paid.
“I was the treasurer from 2008 to 2011, and to my knowledge these bills neither reached my office nor were they paid. Nothing was cleared,” he told The Indian Express.
According to Pandove, BCCI norms specify that all hotel bookings first go through the board secretary’s office for approval before they are sent to the treasurer’s office. Former BCCI president N Srinivasan was the BCCI secretary in 2010.
“As far as I remember, the bills got rejected either at the secretary’s office or by the board’s working committee. I don’t think they ever got any approval,” he added.
When asked why Modi was allowed to operate from a five-star hotel suite instead of the BCCI headquarters in Mumbai, Pandove claimed that he did not have any knowledge of the issue.
“The BCCI HQ is in Mumbai but the office-bearers can work from their independent offices. Back then, the secretary was working out of Chennai, the treasurer out of Mohali and the joint-secretary out of Indore. I don’t know whether Modi took permission from the board president or decided to work out of the hotel on his own. I was only the treasurer then,” said Pandove.