At the centre of the political firestorm over favours extended to him by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan CM Vasundhara Raje, Lalit Modi today named a member of the President’s office in a series of tweets even as emails and call records posted by him on his website included the names of the Prime Minister and Amit Shah.
Tonight, the former IPL chief, who is facing a number of investigations related to alleged financial irregularities, posted in a set of two tweets: “…the biggest hawala operator is #vivek #nagpal also best known as #omita #pauls #bagman. Lots of data on him. Does anyone care to investigate him no. Why? He has friends in the highest places…” Paul is Secretary to President Pranab Mukherjee.
Meanwhile, documents released last night on Modi’s website (lalitmodi.com) include an email dated September 2009 in which responding to a request from Rajasthan Royals (RR), he claimed he would help arrange a meeting between them and the then newly elected Gujarat Cricket Association (GCA) president Narendra Modi.
The documents also include Lalit Modi’s phone bill with a list of calls made in February-March 2010. Scribbled against a three-minute call made at 10.55 am on March 7 is the name, Amit Shah.
Incidentally, the call was made a day after a controversy had broken out regarding the bidding process to include two new franchises in IPL 4.
In an email dated September 16, 2009, Rajasthan Royals vice-president Santanu Chari wrote to Lalit Modi seeking a meeting for himself and a ‘Ranjit’ with the then Gujarat Chief Minister.
“Given that we are only 5 months away from IPL, we wanted to meet the newly-constituted GCA as soon as possible, build relationships with them and start operational discussions. The intended plan of action is: set up a meeting for Ranjit and myself over the next 2-3 weeks with Mr Narendra Modi and his office bearers, work out key relationships, start interaction with the office bearers to work out IPL plans and also importantly Hospitality and ticketing plans,” Chari wrote.
The mail was also marked to RR chairman Manoj Badale and co-owner Suresh Chellaram, who is Lalit Modi’s brother-in-law. According to the Rajasthan Royals website, Ranjit Barthakur is the co-owner of the franchise.
At the time, Ahmedabad was under the Royals’ “catchment area”, and there was talk of the franchise utilising the Motera Stadium as a second venue.
In his reply on the same day, Lalit Modi writes: “Let me meet him first. I am meeting him on Sun. Ranjit – no. Seen as congress man. Operating team to do that. I don’t want politics here. They will do what’s needed. He is very close to me.”
Another document released by Lalit Modi — his recusal application to the BCCI disciplinary committee formed after his suspension in 2010 — gives an idea about the churning within the IPL during the days before the call listed against the name of Amit Shah.
“Till 5th March 2010, which was the deadline for submission of bids, only two bids had been received. These were the Videocon bid and the Adani bid … After the deadline for submitting bids, late in the evening and into the night of 5h March 2010 and in the morning of 6 March 2010, I received several calls from Mr. Shashi Tharoor and his Secretary Mr. Jacob, informing me that a third bid (‘Kochi Bid’) was coming from Delhi,” Modi wrote to the committee headed by Arun Jaitley.
Subsequently, the Jaitley committee indicted Lalit Modi for alleged bid-rigging and banned him from the BCCI for life. The committee concluded that the former IPL chairman favoured the Adani Group and Videocon while arm-twisting the Kochi franchise.
“We are of the view that the charge of misconduct against Mr Modi is proved on this count as he inserted onerous and unreasonable clauses in the draft of ITT (invitation to tender) that was approved by the Governing Council. While incorporating such conditions, Mr Modi did not seek the approval of the Governing Council. The object of such unreasonable conditions was to exclude healthy competition and favour two bidders, which is evident from the fact that only two bids were received pursuant to the ITT,” the Disciplinary Committee report said. The two bidders in this case: Adani and Videocon.