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Lalit Modi: I have a good relationship with many people in the BJP, not worried about Arun Jaitley

Lalit Modi indicated that his RCA polls win is a stepping stone for BCCI return © Getty Images
Lalit Modi indicated that his RCA polls win is a stepping stone for BCCI return © Getty Images

Controversial former IPL chief Lalit Modi, who has been living in exile after being slapped with a life ban, was on Tuesday elected president of the Rajasthan Cricket Association, prompting a livid BCCI to indefinitely suspend the RCA. In an exclusive interview to dna’s Derek Abraham, Modi says there’s a wind of change in India and he is sure to return. Excerpts from the interview:

dna: Congratulations on your victory in the Rajasthan Cricket Association elections. Must be a bittersweet feeling because the BCCI has suspended the RCA…

Lalit Modi (LM): I’d call the decision childish, really. The decision to ban me and suspend the association is stupid and childish. Why take it out on the players? I have been democratically elected and the election was conducted under the supervision of an observer appointed by the Supreme Court. We will challenge the BCCI’s decision in court. We will do whatever we have to do. When they banned Jagmohan Dalmiya, they didn’t ban the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB). Dalmiya didn’t attend BCCI meetings, but someone else from the association did. I have already authorised the deputy president (Mehmood Abdi, who, incidentally, is Modi’s lawyer) to attend BCCI meetings on behalf of the RCA. Look, there is a process. Mr Sanjay Patel has been expelled from his home association, the Baroda Cricket Association. But he continues to be the BCCI secretary. That’s fine with me. He was elected by the BCCI. Similarly, every state association has a right to choose whoever it wants.

dna: You have won these elections in typically regal fashion. Much like the iconic politician MG Ramachandran won the 1984 Tamil Nadu state assembly polls whilst on a hospital bed in New York.

I am totally thrilled to have won an election sitting here in London. It’s a landslide win. I am extremely grateful to the RCA for electing me with a thumping majority. They had faith in me and my work. And they have already seen how my predecessors have worked. The RCA is in a shambles. They (previous regime) have ruined it. I am only bothered about cricket and cricketers.

dna: You have always maintained that N Srinivasan, the BCCI’s president-in-abeyance, is remote-controlling proceedings…

This will be taken up in court soon. The Supreme Court will deal with it. And justice Mukul Mudgal (and the probe committee headed by him) will deal with it.

dna: The BCCI has decided to appoint an ad hoc committee to run the RCA. Your thoughts…

(interrupts) There will be no ad hoc committee. The RCA will be run by the RCA. We are governed by the Rajasthan Sports Act. That’s the law in Rajasthan.

dna: When will you be back in India?

Let the election results be out. It’s just two weeks away. We will talk again.

dna: So you are hoping that the new government, which is likely to headed by your namesake, will allow you to come back?

Look, there is a wind of change in India. I am sure there will be a new government. I don’t have an axe to grind with any government. But yes, I do have an axe to grind with some people in the current government. It was a witch-hunt. And like you and many others in the country, I am looking forward to that wind of change.

dna: It is rumoured that Arun Jaitley will be a very important person in the new government. And the same man was part of the BCCI disciplinary committee, which suspended you…

That doesn’t matter. It isn’t about an individual. It’s about a govt policy. In any case, you can’t expect to have everybody on your side. We also have a lot of friends. I am not worried about Jaitley. I have democratically won my election. Let him first win his election. Then we’ll talk.

dna: So you hope to use your good offices with the BJP to come back to India?

I have a good relationship with many people in the BJP. I won’t take names, though. Look, my job is to work for cricket. I am just doing that.

dna: Your passport has been impounded. How will you return?

Look, that matter will be come up for hearing in the Delhi high court on May 8 (Thursday). We are hoping for a favourable verdict.

dna: You have maintained that there is a credible threat to your life…

Yes, that’s why I have stayed away from India.

dna: Do you have BCCI aspirations?

Look, I gave the BCCI a global product like the IPL. People in the BCCI are doing all it can to take it down. There is so much mess surrounding the league and the BCCI. People have lost faith in the IPL. Nobody in the BCCI speaks about these things. Only a few do.

dna: Do you want to be BCCI president?

I have no such aspirations. I want to clean up cricket and I hope to be in India very soon.

(The writer is Principal Correspondent at DNA, where the above article first appeared)

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