Mumbai/New Delhi (IANS) A crucial meeting of the Indian Premier League (IPL) in Mumbai Monday was set for a vocal showdown between rival factions with commissioner Lalit Modi surprising his detractors by calling for the meeting of the Governing Council (GC) to discuss charges of financial irregularities against him that have dominated national headlines for over a week.
"I will attend and chair the meeting of the GC as chairman and commissioner. I have issued the agenda to the GC," tweeted Modi, the man who has conceived and delivered one of the world's biggest and successful sporting events valued independently at over $4 billion.
The battle for control of the IPL takes place a day after the final at Mumbai that brings the curtain down on the 45-day, 60-match, 10-city, eight-team event that showcased cricket to the world and brought the world's best and the finest to Indian turfs.
A media release from the IPL later stated that the IPL Chairman and Commissioner Sunday circulated the notice "informing members of the Governing Council of the Extraordinary meeting to be held on April 26th 2010 at the Headquarters of the Board of Control for Cricket in India. The Extraordinary Meeting of the Governing Council will be convened at 10 a.m.
"On the agenda, will be a discussion on any complaints received in writing from members of the Governing Council against the Chairman, other members of the Council and/or the Board of Control for Cricket in India. Members of the Governing Council have been requested to give all such complaints in writing with the requisite supporting documents at the meeting on the morning of 26th April, 2010 to the Chairman and Commissioner, so they can be replied in full."
"Since everyone wants the truth out, let them put everything in writing at the GC meeting and Modi will reply, instead of giving credence to half truths and innuendos being circulated through the media," Modi is quoted as saying by a GC member.
With the top brass of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) putting together a resolution to sack Modi and the latter issuing the agenda for Monday's meeting, it was not clear which agenda would be taken up.
The Board has decided to charge Modi with financial irregularity for allegedly receiving kickbacks and for breach of the confidentiality clauses in the franchise agreements.
The resolution to dismiss is reportedly being prepared by BJP leader and BCCI vice-president Arun Jaitley.
Some board members are not sure whether Modi could be dismissed. They say he could only be slapped a suspension notice, pending inquiry.
Modi apparently decided to call the GC meeting taking the cue from former India captain Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi who had said that he should be heard by the GC and that he should be given a couple of days time, if he asks for, to prepare his defence.
The GC dominated by BCCI president Shashank Manohar and secretary N Srinivasan are in no mood to give any quarter to Modi.
An influential board official and chairman of BCCI Media and Finance committees, Rajiv Shukla, told IANS that the GC will wait for Modi to submit his resignation by Sunday night, failing which he will be sacked.
With almost all franchise owners, barring one, backing him to the hilt, an emboldened Modi decided to take on the cricket establishment.
Still, there is a grey area as which of the meetings will be called to order.
If the political heavyweights in the GC have prepared a water-tight case against Modi's alleged omissions and commissions, the Modi camp, too, says it is prepared with its dossiers against a couple of GC members, particularly Srinivasan, with whom he has massive differences on certain financial matters.
With franchise owners Vijay Mallya, Preity Zinta, Jay Mehta and Subroto Roy coming out in support of Modi, it is going to be a long-drawn-out battle.
It is Srinivasan who has convened Monday's meeting and Modi has challenged its validity, claiming he alone as the Chairman can summon the governing council.
"Full n (and) fair investigation of IPL affairs will compel loud mouths to shut up by realising true value of 6th largest sporting event in World," tweeted Vijay Mallya, owner of Bangalore Royal Challengers.
"Despite media bashing it was heartwarming to witness applause by Owners/ Players for Lalit Modi at the awards for the fine job he has done," he said.
The GC members see Modi's request for a postponement of the meeting as a ploy to wait for Supreme Court's decision on former president A. C. Muthiah's appeal against Srinivasan owning an IPL team as a conflict of interest since he is also the secretary of the cricket board.
The request for postponement of the meeting was turned down, but if the court decided against Srinivasan, Modi will be a position of strength in the GC and could even ward off his imminent ouster.
Srinivasan, however, has filed a caveat asking the court not expressing its opinion against Modi without hearing him.