Former IPL chairman Lalit Modi
has once again proved that in India if you are rich and powerful, you are above the law.
Modi was on a name-dropping diarrheal attack in his interview with journalist Rajdeep Sardesai, and it became clear that politicians across party lines have been in touch with Lalit Modi, knowing fully well that he is wanted in the country.
When serious absconders like Dawood Ibrahim, Ottavio Quattrocchi and Warren Anderson of Union Carbide have managed to stay out of India, Lalit Modi
with his political connection and money power may never be brought to justice. The present government’s support for its minister’s action suggests that Lalit Modi
episode will not come to an end anytime soon.
Here are five points that reveal how someone like Lalit Modi hobnobs with those in power and use their clout to his advantage.
1. Why was Lalit Modi allowed to leave the country?
Congress party as the main opposition party has a right to point out the mistakes that the government makes, but in doing so it needs to look in history that the main reason Lalit Modi is globetrotting is because Congress allowed him to scoot. For four years, that the congress-led UPA government was in power since Lalit Modi fled, it could not produce adequate proof to upgrade the notice against Lalit Modi from blue to red. Blue corner notice is only an enquiry directed at the Interpol to pinpoint the suspect, while red would mean arresting the person involved. In the four years of the UPA regime, Enforcement Directorate could not file a single charge against Lalit Modi.
2. Why was Lalit Modi not brought back earlier?
Knowing very well the speed at which governments work, one can excuse the UPA government on not being able to prevent Lalit Modi from fleeing. But if the UPA government taught that the crime was a serious one, why didn’t they ask for his extradition. Though a blue corner notice was issued after Lalit Modi fled and refused to appear for investigations, half-baked efforts were made for bringing him back. In fact, his passport, revoked by the passport office, was restored by the Delhi High Court and Lalit Modi was allowed to give evidence on Skype rather than be physically present. Chidambaram now asks the current government to release letters written by authorities to the UK Chancellor. But the point remains that either Lalit Modi carried more weight than the Indian government or the Indian government did not put enough pressure when Chidambaram was a minister.
3. Why did Vasundhara Raje agree to be a witness?
Lalit Modi openly flaunted his relationship with the present chief minister of Rajasthan Vasundhara Raje saying they are family friends for nearly 30 years. Even though Raje was not a chief minister when she agreed to be a witness, she knew she was the leader under whom elections would be fought. Being on the bedside of Lalit Modi’s wife is one thing but agreeing to be a witness and that too doing it clandestinely and requesting it to be kept secret shows that Raje knew she was doing something wrong. Raje and her family’s proximity to Lalit Modi is an open secret. Lalit Modi invested money in Raje’s son, Dushyant Singh’s company
4. Why did Sushma Swaraj not keep the government informed?
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and the government have already given External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj a clean chit, saying that all allegations are baseless and that the minister acted with good intention. Lalit Modi said he had made the call to Sushma Swaraj but it was the minister’s duty to inform the bureaucracy and the prime minister or the cabinet before taking the decision. This becomes even more important since Lalit Modi has refused to come to India and Swaraj’s family are his lawyers. Ministers need to be overboard and transparent when it comes to handling controversial figures like Lalit Modi. At the very least Swaraj is guilty of not following the procedure.
5. What are other politicians trying to achieve by contacting Lalit Modi?
Lalit Modi has proved it time and again that he is a big mouth, one who cannot keep a secret. Yet senior politicians across party lines have been in touch with Lalit Modi. The only reason Lalit Modi seems to be in touch with other politicians, especially those who are involved in cricket boards, is because they see him as a counter force to N Srinivasan who has been at the centre of most of the controversies and has proved his strength despite all the charges levied against him. Sharad Pawar, Praful Patel and Rajeev Shukla have been named by Lalit Modi as helping him get his travel papers, this at a time when the UPA was in power. The present episode is the manifestation of the money and power play in cricket. In fact, Modi went to the extent of telling Rajdeep Sardesai that Salman Khurshid meets him whenever he is in London.
At the end of the day Lalit Modi episode proves that the rich and famous keep are politically neutral, they influence everybody.