IPL’s ‘Twittergate’!


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Université d'été du MEDEF 2007

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With the spat between the 2 protagonists of the IPL ‘Twittergate’ now hitting Parliament, i.e. Tharoor’s conduct being questioned by the opposition parties, and with demands for his resignation becoming more strident, my thoughts on Shashi Tharoor and Lalit Modi.

According to global sports salaries review, IPL is the second-highest paid league, based on first-team salaries on a pro-rata basis, second only to the NBA league.

Shashi Tharoor:

Very suave, articulate and well-educated. He represents the face that India would like to present to the outside world and that’s  what he has done, in the past, with his career at the UN spanning 3 decades from 1978 to 2007. In 2007 , he was India’s candidate for the post of UN Secretary General. After being elected to Parliament from Thiruvananthapuram and made Minister of State for External Affairs, he has been very outspoken on Twitter and is definitely well aware of the power of disintermediation (of information) and reaching out directly to his constituents and the general public via the Internet. He is definitely popular with netizens with over 30,000 Twitter followers. As to the IPL imbroglio, the question of propriety remains. Even if he is not directly involved, and it is his friend Sunanda Pushkar , a shrewd astute businesswoman,who was gifted ‘sweat’ equity by the Rendezvous group, the question still to be responded to is whether  Lalit Modi’s allegation that Tharoor sought to suppress any investigation of his lady friend  has any real substance. (As an aside, sweat equity is not free equity as any employee of software companies such as Infosys, Wipro or TCS can testify). As to Tharoor’s credentials as a mentor to the Kochi IPL team , it is a mystery to any discerning follower of the game. Does an IPL team franchise mentor have to be political?

 Lalit Modi:

Who was Lalit Modi before the IPL? A nobody. No one had heard of him. (Well,not quite true! Wikipedia states that “he is also the President and Managing Director of Modi Enterprises, the industrial conglomerate created and run by his family, and Executive Director of Godfrey Phillips India, part of the Modi Enterprises business empire.” But you get the drift! He’s very visible!)

But he now vies with stalwarts of industry like the Ambanis and the Tatas as a man with vision, who foresaw the game-changing abilities of the IPL, a league to be emulated by other cricket-playing nations. You could call him the Kerry Packer of India.

Quote of the day:
The love of truth lies at the root of much humor. – Robertson Davies

With reference to the IPL Twittergate, questions are being raised as to why only the Kochi team’s ownership was made public. It is to be noted that private entities are not required under law to make their ownership public. But with the IPL about mega-bucks and with the Indian public a huge stakeholder in this tamasha, it becomes a matter of probity (some would even say national importance!) as to why should there not be an exception made and the ownership of all IPL teams be made public. There is good reason for this : It wasn’t so far away in the past that Bollywood movies were bankrolled by the mafia dons  as vehicles to turn black money white. This does not suggest that something similar has happened with the IPL teams or will happen but there need to be safeguards against any such eventuality. There exist lurking suspicions about political entities profiting from the IPL tamasha. After all, IPL is a business and a very profitable business because though operating profits are hard to come by, the ever burgeoning valuations make it a gainful investment for the owners. But any business needs to be sustainable and the IPL is no exception.

But enough of Lalit Modi & the IPL’s sustainability. Back to ‘IPL Twittergate’.

Should Shashi Tharoor resign? It seems that the Congress party is unwilling to rise to his defense perhaps because he’s perceived as a dangerous maverick and does not toe the staid party line. But the only questions that need to be raised and answered are “Is there a conflict of interest? Has he made any pecuniary gains through using his influence to secure the Kochi IPL team bid? Was any undue influence or inside information used to secure the Kochi IPL franchise?”

These are the only questions to be answered. Everything else is  extraneous or  plain BS.

Also, the counter allegations that Modi offered Tharoor a bribe to step aside for an Ahmedabad franchise are serious enough for the BCCI to consider launching an investigation of their own into Modi’s actions. They might not be reluctant to do so since Modi seems to be becoming a larger-than-life figure and Indian politics is about cutting people down to size once they are seen to be becoming too big for their boots! Make no mistake, with Sharad Pawar at the helm , the BCCI and cricket administration  is about politics and money!

This is thus, a fight between two very ‘visible’ and media savvy adversaries of very different stripes. May the best stripes win!smile_regular

Have a great day!

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