Lalit Modi and the Board of Control for Cricket in India are all set for another round of legal battle after the tainted former Indian Premier League chairman was declared president of the Rajasthan Cricket Association by court-appointed observers in Jaipur on Tuesday. Modi lives in exile in UK and the BCCI is vehemently opposing his return to Indian cricket administration. BCCI has indefinitely suspended RCA and will appoint an ad-hoc committee to run its affairs.
The fight with the BCCI is clearly one between Modi and N. Srinivasan. Once friends who toppled the Jagmohan Dalmiya regime, Modi and Srinivasan are bitter rivals now. In the wake of the IPL scandal, the ex-IPL czar never fails to slam Srinivasan, the soon-to-be International Cricket Council chairman, who has been suspended by the Supreme Court as BCCI president.
Last week, Modi welcomed the Supreme Court move to declare the RCA election results. It had been a long wait for the Modi faction and while it remains to be seen if this group can formally take charge of RCA or not, the results were a moral win for the controversial Modi, who was banned by BCCI last September.
"I am extremely happy that the Supreme Court has taken the right decision and allowed the due democratic process to go forward. We are hoping our group will win the elections. If we do win we will have an agenda and vision which I will make clear after the results," Modi said after judge AR Dave, last week, passed an order to declare the results.
"When the BCCI banned me, I had to prove a point," Modi said. "I wanted to show to everybody that banning me does not mean that I am going to stay away. It actually gave me greater resolve to fight them," Modi told ESPNCricinfo in an interview. (Read full interview here)
After a Supreme Court-appointed inquiry committee indicted Srinivasan's son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan for betting and sharing team information, Modi has scathingly attacked the embattled BCCI president, who unanimously won a third year in the Board AGM in September last year. Calling Srinivasan "a mafia" and "a monter", Modi has openly shown his anger at Srinivasan, who was instrumental in showing the tainted IPL commissioner the door from BCCI.
Even from exile, Modi's focus has been Srinivasan. "Everything has become a one-man show. They are now trying to do the same at the ICC. To me that is just unacceptable. I just love the game. And hence cannot keep quiet," Modi said in his interview, claiming that it was his constant criticism that forced the Supreme Court to sideline Srinivasan.
Modi calls himself a "fighter" and says he will ride the RCA platform to fight the Board. Well aware that BCCI will challenge the RCA poll results, Modi said: "Let them try. I am not afraid of that fight. I have not been afraid of any fight. If they want to now cancel our affiliation, let them do that. That does not mean cricket in Rajasthan is going to stop," said Modi.
In the ever-fluid dynamics of the BCCI, Modi claims to have many friends in the Board who are scared to oppose Srinivasan. Former BCCI president Shashank Manohar had echoed similar sentiments during an emergent working committee meeting in Mumbai last month. But in terms of numbers, Srinivasan continue to garner the support of majority of members. Srinivasan continues to remote-control the BCCI even if he is not on the hotseat.
It won't be easy to knock Srinivasan off his perch. Srinivasan's term as BCCI president expires in September 2014 and it will be East Zone's turn to nominate a new president. Nothing stops Srinivasan from contesting again. BCCI is an autonomous body and if Srinivasan can garner the support of at least four of the six East votes, nothing will stop the Tamil Nadu strongman. Remember, Cricket Association of Bengal chief Dalmiya, who still enjoys a lot of clout in BCCI, is not a Lalit Modi 'fan'.