Baffling Waffling Over Lalit Modi who Manipulated Many

Sumit Mitra in his article asks why doesn’t NDA say there is no substantive case against Lalit Modi?

Published01 Jul 2015, 10:29 AM IST
India
4 min read

Keeping LaMo’s Fu Manchu Image Alive

— Nobody is interested in prosecuting Lalit Modi.

— Allegations against him, being pursued by ED, seem to be losing steam.

— But things could look entirely different if the cases against Modi had attracted the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

— But between 2010, when Modi fled, and now, both governments have waffled.

— Are Lalit Modi’s loyalists and supporters free from conflicts of interest?

— The doubt about integrity of these respected citizens has been created by the lackadaisical handling of Modi’s case by two successive governments.

— Instead, by keeping alive Modi’s Fu Manchu image, the ED, and its masters, are making it hard for Narendra Modi to face Parliament.

As it now seems, nobody is interested in prosecuting Lalit Modi who, till the other day, was presented as cricket’s “Napoleon of crime”. The allegations against him, which are being pursued by the Enforcement Directorate under the finance ministry, seem to be losing steam by the day. Are they all under the rather meek FEMA? If so, then Modi’s supporters are spot-on in claiming that there is no need for the former IPL commissioner to appear in person before the investigators, not to speak of yielding to custodial interrogation.

Is There Substantial Evidence Against Modi?

(Photo: Reuters)
(Photo: Reuters)

But things could look entirely different if the cases against Modi had attracted the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) which is a harsh law, with the burden of proof on the accused. If ED is ready with a charge against Lalit Modi under PMLA, the question that should be asked is: what were they doing so long? Isn’t it enough ground for a ‘red corner’ alert being issued against him? And for his being tugged back to face trial in an Indian court?

It is obvious that the allegations against Modi are somewhat nebulous. If these had more substance, the charges could stand in court irrespective of the party in power, Congress or BJP. But between 2010, when Modi fled, and now, both governments have waffled, which has encouraged his loyalists (or retainers, as it is proved in the case of Vasundhara Raje and her son Dushyant Singh) to come out of the closet.

Modi’s loyalists are legion – as many as three retired judges of the Supreme Court; a well-connected journalist, known for his power and wealth; a former police commissioner of Mumbai; and NCP, a powerful political party. One of the ex-judges, the late Justice U C Banerjee, is the author of the ‘Godhra report’ that suggested that the ill-fated coach of the Sabarmati Express in 2002 was set on fire from within.

Journalist Prabhu Chawla was so much willing to help the sultan of cricket that he rushed to London, at his own expense, according to him, to depose in a court that Modi was being “singled out” in India “out of jealousy”. Retired Justice S B Sinha expressed the view that Modi’s passport revocation order was liable to be challenged. Justice Banerjee supported Modi’s claim for UK citizenship, which, in other words, is the same as saying he was being persecuted in his homeland.

Are Modi’s Loyalists Free From Conflicts of Interest?

Vasundhara Raje’s MP son Dushyant Singh (Centre). (Photo: <a href="https://twitter.com/DushyantDholpur">twitter.com</a>/<a href="https://twitter.com/DushyantDholpur">@<b>DushyantDholpur</b></a>)
Vasundhara Raje’s MP son Dushyant Singh (Centre). (Photo: twitter.com/@DushyantDholpur)

With due respect to these weighty personalities, protected by media and judicial power, as they are, one may still ask if they are free from conflicts of interest. Raje’s MP son Dushyant Singh has, by selling his Rs 10 shares to Modi at Rs 96,000, shown that support to Modi could have a price tag. But what about the other celebrities? Did their support come out of their heart? 

The doubt about integrity of these respected citizens has been created by the lackadaisical handling of Modi’s case by two successive governments. The possibility of there being a serious criminal charge against him originates from a case filed by the then BCCI chief N Srinivasan, himself no paragon of virtue, for forgery, cheating, etc. It is said in some quarters that Modi could be the conduit for $80 million changing hands from one IPL broadcast partner World Sports Group (WSG) to another, Multi Screen Media (MSM). But all that is empty hot air so far. It has only helped a certain television channel keep its TRP high.

When Modi Ran for Life in 2010



Shashi Tharoor with Sunanda Pushkar. (Photo: Reuters)
Shashi Tharoor with Sunanda Pushkar. (Photo: Reuters)

It is undeniable, though, that Modi ran for life in 2010 not for the fear of ED sleuths but because he had tweeted that Congress minister Shashi Tharoor’s girl-friend (later wife, now departed) Sunanda Pushkar had 25% stake in the proposed Kochi franchise. It set the cat among the pigeons. Tharoor, supposedly close to Congress president Sonia Gandhi from his days at the UN, had to be dropped from the council of ministers, and all hell broke loose. It seems some people at the top were seeking revenge, and Modi was in panic.

If tweeting was Modi’s main offence it is no wonder that the UPA government could not get him extradited. But why doesn’t NDA say there is no substantive case against him? Instead, by keeping alive Modi’s Fu Manchu image, the ED, and its masters, are making it just too hard for the bigger Modi, the Prime Minister, to even face Parliament. It is destroying his “iron man” image and exposing his feet of clay. 

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