Q: What happens when a petty dimwit, who leads a hugely successful franchise, faces off with a suave lobbyist?
A: Crap hits the fan!
Welcome dear friends to a side-act that seems to be dominating India’s richest circus – Indian Premier League. IPL, as it is better known, started as an idea by the Indian cricketing legend Kapil Dev, to hone the cricketing talent of the country. At a time when India’s cricketing board considered T20, the shortest format of the game to be just a fad, Kapil Dev created the Indian Cricket League (ICL) with private sponsors. The event was an instant success for the cricket-hungry nation with international players mentoring upcoming Indian cricketers and enthralling crazed fans.
Enter Lalit Modi, who convinces the BCCI (Indian Cricket Board) that with the Indian team winning the 2007 T20 world cup, the fad is here to stay. For a plan to cash-in on the rush, Lalit Modi revisits the ICL plan, Cntrl+A, Cntrl+X, Cntrl+V. Viola! IPL is born. He then resorts to the cheap tactic of banning all Indian players in the ICL from representing the country. Trivializes Kapil Dev’s efforts and gets the ICC (International Cricketing Council) to discredit the ICL. What happens to ICL? Shift+Del!
What followed were two hugely successful seasons that cashed in on two evergreen passions of the Indian Man – Cricket and White Babes. The IPL wants more and invites bids for two new teams. Team Pune and Team Kochi offer whopping amounts of USD 350M and USD 333M for their teams, and win the bid. The Kochi bid is put together by Rendezvous sports, a bunch of unrelated parties brought together by Dr. Shashi Tharoor, an erudite politician from Trivandrum. Suddenly, something.
What follows is a developing story and the plot, sub-plots, characters, locales, and political affiliations will change. Continuously, randomly.
Act 1. The Kochi franchise’s papers are returned, citing lack of paperwork as the reason. As any Indian will know, the next logical thing is to slip a fiver into the babu’s pocket. The franchise, rather than slipping a fiver in the pocket, spends time, money, and energy in compiling paperwork.
Act 2. Modi tweets about irregularities in the partnership and attacks Shashi Tharoor personally, and insinuating his financial interest in the franchise. He also confesses to having received a call from Tharoor asking him to ‘back off’ from the scrutiny of the Kochi team’s papers.
Act 3. Dr Tharoor tweets ‘I’ve had enough” and issues a press release. He refrains from any personal attacks, but his aides and confidants do not. They publish Modi’s past in the US as a cocaine peddler, kidnapper, and assaulter. (?!)
Act 4. The Kochi team challenges Modi to disclose the ownership patterns of all teams. This supposedly caused a minor tremor in Lahore, where the ‘Bhai’ is living off ISI’s money and hospitality. (Any Indian company is only legitimate if the ‘Bhai’ has a stake in it.) Tharoor receives a threat SMS from the ‘Bhai’ (which will be eventually traced to some wannabe dumfuk) and his security is beefed up.
Act 5. Another disclosure linking Modi to a model and a probable casting pitch(?) scandal raises eyebrows. Modi is asked by the BCCI to stop tweeting and not make further comments (till they receive their share?) until the matter is sorted.
Act 6. BJP demands Tharoor’s resignation. (Again, this is the only logical conclusion for any problem.)
Update: April 18, 2010
Tharoor quits his post as a minister in the external affairs ministry.
Update: April 21, 2010
The BCCI and IPL governing council suggest Modi's exit. The defiant Modi refuses to go down
Disclaimer: My being a Mallu doesn’t necessarily mean that I am a fan of Tharoor by default. I honestly think that he should quit politics, since the political scene is not yet ready for a class act like him. IMO, it is his skill as a lobbyist that put a motley crew together to bid for a team. Moreover, even in the unlikely event that he has a financial stake in the outfit, isn’t it better than having underworld connections and other assorted mafia links? I’m really curious to see how Modi will come out of this…