It all started with a tweet about a minister’s role in procuring a team, by Him with a dubious past, extraordinary enterprise and a motor-propelled mouth - IPL commissioner Lalit Modi. At the receiving end was our uber savvy minister of state for external affairs Shashi Tharoor and his stunning escort Sunanda Push-kar. It was alleged that Pushkar’s 75 crore equity holding in the consortium was actually a kickback to our honourable minister.
LSD (Lalit Shashi Aur Dhoka) was undoubtedly the most thrilling IPL match of the season. A public spat which snowballed into a scandal revealing bigger players, personal liaisons, casting doubts over the transparency and accountability of the league itself. We also learnt that equity could be free or sweaty. But does it really matter when it’s a whopping 75 crores.
Shashi defended himself by saying that as a cricket fan & MP from Kerala he was merely mentoring the consortium bidding for the Kochi team. Ironically the Kochi team has just one investor from Kerala whose share is a mere 1%.
So why did Modi spill the beans on the Kochi consortium? It is speculated that he was keen that another group (the Adanis) from Gujarat win the bid and was peeved when Kochi won. When Modi gets peeved he expresses it in more ways than one.
The story did not have a happy ending. Heads rolled, income tax raids conducted, doubts cast on integrity of many cast members. Unfortunately for Tharoor, his story pleading his innocence did not have too many takers. He was asked to quit from his post. Sunanda retired hurt from the consortium parting with her equity and quitting Rendezvous World Sports.
From the outset the junior minister of state found it hard to get his act right in the slippery world of politics. His “too clever for his own good” brand of politics led to his undoing. However his “cattle class for holy cows” did provide wholesome entertainment to the likes of us.
Was it his lack of propriety and his undue interest shown in an acquisition that led to his undoing? If the intent was operation cleanup, then why target just Tharoor? Don’t we have Sharad Pawar, Arun Jaitley and Suresh Kalmadi running sports associations as their personal fiefdoms, wielding power and doling out favours in a manner very unlikely to be honourable? We have a Mayawati misusing her powers for Dalit propaganda (and her handbags – come to think of it, I missed the significance of this accessory that adorns her statues), Shibu Soren convicted of murder and still heading a state and scores of others with criminal records, whose sole intention is to make a quick buck while still in power.
Here was an elected representative who was refreshingly different and wanted to bring about change in the system. His tweet opposing the misguided visa restrictions had bosses in New Delhi squirming in their seats. Was he in the wrong? Says which rule in the book that you cannot question the authorities and not indulge in healthy debate? The situation is uncannily similar to an archaic classroom where the rigid school teacher punishes the student for daring to defy the system and raising uncomfortable questions. Political parties in the world’s largest democracy, unfortunately, are run like autocracies.
In my opinion it was Tharoor’s lack of guile that did him in. In the murky world of politics you have to master the art of operating behind the scenes. Utilize your tenure in networking with cash rich industrialists, hobnob with criminals, get your daughter married off in style and if you have cash to spare get an adversary or two knocked off, rest assured you will be guaranteed a long innings. Why waste your precious time on aam-aadmi and his never-ending problems! The poor are meant to be taken for granted, the intelligentsia will do their candle light vigils and TV debates.
Should Modi’s head roll too? Absolutely! his head was getting too inflated for his own good anyway.