Mumbai: The Indian Premier League (IPL) may be the biggest and brashest tournament cricket has ever seen, but the alleged behind the scenes financial irregularities may end up seeing India as the real loser, a report in The Times has claimed.
According to the report, India has 1.2 billion people, many of them crazy about cricket. Most are growing wealthier and the number who can afford to buy satellite TV subscriptions and replica shirts is growing.
More than that, for many Indians, the IPL is an emblem of their aspirations and proof of how the epicenter of the global economy is shifting East.
It is also a symbol of what they believe India is destined to become: a true global power.
In short, the IPL was an icon of a “New India” – one that was supposed to have shed the corruption, nepotism, cronyism and political patronage of the past.
As the confetti settles on this year’s competition, however, the question is whether it is too big to fail.
The suspension of Lalit Modi, the IPL’s fast talking creator and chief administrator, just minutes after the Chennai Super Kings vanquished the Mumbai Indians in an IPL final over allegations of money laundering, match-fixing, illegal betting, team auction manipulation, political corruption and multi-million dollar kickbacks, is likely to have a huge adverse impact.
Modi has been given 15 days to answer allegations of financial impropriety. His suspension may have set the stage for a messy dissection of the scandal in which the IPL has been mired for the past fortnight.
Modi has challenged the BCCI to justify its reasons for sacking him, suggesting that they are scared to face the truth.
There is no doubt that the scandal has rocked India to its core.
The resignation of Deputy Foreign Minister Shashi Tharoor a fortnight ago was a reminder of how cricket in the country is riddled with political patronage and worse.
Tharoor, a favourite of Sonia Gandhi, was forced to step down when it emerged that a business consortium he had advised had given a 10-million-pound stake in a new IPL side to a woman widely reported to be his girlfriend.
Having sacrificed Tharoor, the Government went out for revenge, unleashing its tax inspectors on anybody with an association with the IPL.
The real target, however, has appeared to be Modi, who triggered the Tharoor scandal through a leak on the Twitter website.