IPL:Indian Paise Loot

IPL is currently worth about Rs 20,000 crore.Actually, such is the money involved that during the league’s last burst of expansion the auction figures were quoted in US dollars: Rendezvous, a consortium which surprised everyone (including the organisers) by winning the right to start a team in Kochi, quoted $333.33 million; they beat out Gautam Adani’s group, which had bid $315 million for a franchise in Ahmedabad.

Ahmedabad is probably the second biggest betting centre in India after Mumbai, and gambling is mainly what has turned the IPL into a Rs 20,000 crore ($4.5 billion) enterprise. This is no secret to some of the people in the BCCI. After all, some of their friends might also benefit from this informal Indian Las Vegas.

When Lalit Modi lost the elections to the Rajasthan Cricket Association (RCA), he not only lost a fiefdom, he lost much-needed immunity.His political patronage was blown and more than 20 cases were opened against him, relating to tax evasion and financial irregularities when he was at the helm of the RCA.The rumour mills say that Lalit Modi had approached Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and was assured by the latter that if he could ensure that the Gujarat team wins the franchise and brings both glamour and money to the state, he’d be made the secretary of the Gujarat Cricket Association (of which the chief minister Narendra Modi is the president).Newspapers had carried front-page stories linking a beautiful South African model, Gabriella Demetriades, with Modi. It seems Modi no longer wanted the association and had requested Tharoor’s office, as Minister of State for External Affairs, to deny Gabriella a visa.He seems to have left an e-mail trail when he wrote to Joseph for help about denying the visa. Modi was not only booked for drug abuse in college but is involved in a court case for cocaine abuse as recently as 2006 in the UAE.The office of Subhash Chandra Goel( who started Indian Cricket League), Chairmain Zee Telefilms, for instance, has offered clinching evidence of Modi’s involvement in a lottery scandal in India’s northeastern states for which a court case has been going on for years.

At first, Modi tried hard to make friend Tharoor back off so that the Adani bid could be more competitive. He even tried to mislead the Kochi group by telling them that all they needed to win the race was $299 million. The consortium, however, was reportedly alerted by former Indian skippers Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri that Modi was actually seeking $322 million. The Kochi team was also told that they would face many technical hurdles to block them from winning the bid.But instead of backing off, the Tharoor- mentored Kochi consortium bid an astronomical Rs 1,500 crore and won the franchise. The Kochi consortium alleges that Modi offered them a $50 million bribe to abandon their bid after they had won the Kochi franchise.
The rumour goes too that, at one point, Modi made an urgent call to Tharoor saying things had gone beyond him and if Tharoor didn’t back off, Modi’s life would be in danger.

Such is the jostling for stakes in the IPL money-glamour-influence pie, a very senior UPA cabinet minister from Maharashtra and a former classmate of Tharoor’s, had called the latter asking him to get Rendezvous Sports to offload its stakes in favour of an owner of a Maharashtra- based white goods giant. (In a serpentine twist, this businessman had apparently first paid Modi money for a chance to invest in the Ahmedabad team. When that franchise bid was foiled, he wanted to invest in the Kochi team.) However, apparently driven by some sense of chivalry to the original consortium, Tharoor refused.

Shashi Tharoor (MP from kerela & Former Minister of External Affairs) himself was chairman of the Dubai-based Afras group (which promoted investment in Kerala), and there were allegations that Afras paid for Tharoor’s controversial stay at a five-star hotel suite during his first three months as minister. Tharoor’s OSD in the ministry Jacob Joseph has a business in Dubai, where his wife still lives. The former head of the consortium, Congress ex-MP Satyajit Gaekwad has been replaced by the Dubai-based Harshad Mehta. And then there’s Tharoor’s friend, Dubai-based Sunanda Pushkar, who reportedly was introduced to Tharoor by Sunny Varkey, founder of a Dubai-based school empire and a 2009 Padma awardee.

Tharoor divorced his Canadian wife Christa Giles & married Kashmiri origin Sunanda Pushkar. Through some unexplained “sweat equity” she stands to gain Rs 70 crore.The ugly fight is for 4.9 percent free sweat equity in the Kochi team.A mere 0.5 percent is reserved for Pushkar.Pushkar claimed in a written statement to the media that she had been approached by Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) to assist them as a marketing consultant. While it seems true that top-line event management professional Karim Murani associated with KKR is a friend of hers, KKR co-owners Shah Rukh Khan and Jay Mehta, actor Juhi Chawla’s husband, have denied the claim outright.

The other stakeholders jostling for a franchise were the Sahara Group, owned by Subrata Roy; the Pune team sponsored by Saif Ali Khan, Kareena Kapoor and relatively lesser-known businessmen; and an Ahmedabad team sponsored by the Adani Group, one of India’s top infrastructure companies.Subrata Roy, of course, outplayed everyone by making an astronomical bid of $370 million, prompted by his numerologist. Pune was out of the running. That left Kochi and Gujarat running neck and neck.

Sources in the Intelligence Bureau (IB) say that when one of the richest men in the country Mukesh Ambani says he owns a team through personal wealth, it is something of a lie. The stakes have apparently been bought through his company with shareholders’ money, which makes the Rs 43 crore his team lost last season an unlisted liability for public shareholders.

Question is also about that BCCI have illegal bank accounts in South Africa.
The bazaar gossip says the editor of a major media house, whose son had recently come under the radar of corporate intelligence bodies, is also trying to get into the IPL franchise racket.

Former BCCI and ICC president, Jagmohan Dalmiya, after this incident forced BCCI to share profits of IPL(earns more than Rs 700 crore a year) with the state cricket associations Rs 4 crore. Dalmiya wants to raise that to around Rs 30-40 crore (300-400 million).

The IPL means big money which means big politics and, in India, big politicians.The income tax raids are not meant punitively, but merely for the ruling party to assess how much money the upstart Lalit Modi has actually wrung out of this tournament. Sharad Pawar is not the only politician Lalit Modi has befriended; the Gujarat chief minister’s name has been dragged into this mess, and Congress MP Rajiv Shukla (an old friend of the dynasty since the late Rajiv Gandhi’s days) is also a visible chum of Lalit Modi’s. So it is also possible that the political class wants to cut Lalit Modi down to size without killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.

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