Split Wide Open: The Vasundhara Raje-Lalit Modi Nexus Runs Deep
The relationship between Vasundhara Raje and Lalit Modi runs deeper than the two just being family friends.
The relationship between Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and former IPL Commissioner and cricket baron Lalit Modi, both now in the eye of a raging storm, runs deeper than the two just being family friends.
At the heart of this relationship is — or should we say was since the two fell apart once Modi ensconced himself in the UK — an intricate web of financial investments which seemingly benefited both.
The Adil Ahmad Connection
A few years before Lalit Modi became Raje’s partner in financial dealings, Adil Ahmad, the nephew of former Bahujan Samaj Party MP from Azamgarh Akbar ‘Dumpy’ Ahmad, made his way to Raje’s close circle of associates and aides during her first term as Rajasthan chief minister between December 2003 and December 2008.
Hailing from Samthal in Uttar Pradesh, Adil soon became a consultant for most interior decoration projects of the Rajasthan government. He subsequently designed the extremely plush mansion Raje owns in Delhi.
The Facebook page of Delhi-based Good Earth Home Décor says:
Adil Ahmad, the Creative Director of our bespoke interior design division Charbagh, was responsible for designing and decorating Vasundhara Raje’s gorgeous Delhi home.
Sources familiar with the budding association between Lalit Modi and Raje said that the former developed a close working relationship with Ahmad and began getting state government development contracts.
He bagged as many as 22 such contracts, but each of them failed to take off. But that did not stop the association from growing and it strengthened when the first IPL season began in 2008, when Raje was still in power in Rajasthan.
Contracts, Castles and Cricket
It was around this time, an Enforcement Directorate investigation reveals, that one of Lalit Modi’s hotel companies was found to have transferred an amount of Rs 11.63 crore to firm owned by Raje’s son Dushyant Singh, a BJP MP from Jhalawar-Baran constituency, who has a hospitality industry service background.
Repeated efforts to reach across to Dushyant Singh over mobile and landline phones failed. When Raje lost the assembly elections to the Congress in 2008, she would spend most of her time in the UK, with the upscale Grange Rochester Hotel in the heart of London near Westminster Abbey, as a frequent meeting place between Lalit Modi and the then BJP leader of the opposition in the Rajasthan assembly.
By 2011, with Lalit Modi losing grip over the Indian Premier League, following allegations of misappropriation of money and influence peddling, cracks began to show up in the association. Modi moved to the UK with a huge amount of money and in 2014 forcibly occupied at least four properties which reportedly belong to Raje.
There are indications that Raje holds, in her name or indirectly, a number of properties in the UK, including a medieval castle in Scotland which was converted into a heritage hotel. Part of the proceeds earned as income from the hotel is given in charity.
Raje’s affidavit to the Election Commission while contesting the 2013 assembly polls says that her total assets amount to Rs 4.04 (including Rs 3.66 crore movable assets) crore, which is a 25.85% jump compared to the number she filed in 2008, Rs 3.21 crore.
While she holds Rs 42,194 in cash, bank deposits (self and joint) account for Rs 32.32 lakh, Rs 1.58 crore in bonds, debentures and shares, Rs 1.0076 crore worth of jewellery, but she doesn’t own a car. She owns a residential building in Jaipur valued at Rs 38 lakh.
Time for a Government Audit?
The split between the two now appears to be complete. Raje had denied any knowledge of this document, but she must answer how Modi virtually ran the CM’s office from his suite in Ram Niwas Hotel, effected state government appointments and transfers and commercial deals.
The question is whether there have been any thorough government audit of all the transactions in which Modi and Adil Ahmad played roles.
When contacted for Raje version for this story, her press advisor Mahendra Bhardwaj said: “Madam has nothing more to add to the statement she made on June 16. She is busy. She has already said what she had to say.”
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