By Qaiser Mohammad Ali
New Delhi– Ruchir Modi, son of Indian Premier League founder Lalit Modi and till recently president of the Alwar District Cricket Association, is only taking a sabbatical from cricket administration and says he would be back “100 per cent” after a couple of years.
Ruchir, 26, decided against contesting this month’s election of Rajasthan’s Alwar district because there was “too much politics in the Rajasthan Cricket Association (RCA)” while claiming that a majority of the RCA constituent districts wanted him to contest.
“I am not completely ruling myself out, 100 per cent. I mean I don’t see myself getting involved this year and the next year. I see myself being very tied up with family business at the moment. But 100 per cent I am not going to rule out the possibility in future,” Ruchir told IANS in an exclusive interview from London.
Ruchir also said that cricketers of Alwar district were being targeted vis-à-vis selection in various teams, including that for Ranji Trophy, because he was at odds with RCA president Vaibhav Gehlot, son of Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot. He said for now he would instead concentrate on his family business spread across India and overseas.
“The elections for Alwar were coming up this year. I decided it would make more sense, for the moment, firstly for Alwar for them to have a president in place to actually have the support of the state [RCA] because it is very important to have the support of the RCA for every district. No matter what I could do for them to be selected in the Ranji Trophy team, for players to be selected in the Rajasthan team, for them to move forward, and come into the RCA Academy, I need to leave the door open to them. That was one of the main reasons,” he said.
“The other reason is that there is too much politics in the RCA. In today’s time, you have seen Ashok Gehlot’s son come in now [on October 15]. I don’t want to get into the game of playing politics. I wanted to something for the RCA; I didn’t get a chance to do that now. But I am not ruling out the possibility of doing anything in the future with the RCA,” he emphasised.
Ruchir clarified that he wasn’t ready to get involved in a legal battle to remain in cricket administration because the RCA has suspended a few districts that owed allegiance to the Modi faction in the association.
“I also don’t think I will get a fair chance to do what I want to for the RCA, and would be looked at coming into the RCA body where I’d be looked at as if I am coming in as my own person today. It seems to me that every move I make in the RCA or everything I do it seems to be that people think my father is controlling me from the back and, therefore, they are suspending Alwar and other districts, and they would not even given me a chance to stand in the current state elections [held on October 15]. So, instead of going into a legal battle I said ‘let us look at what good I can add’ and at the moment I don’t think I could add that much to the RCA,” he said.
“So, it made much more of a sense to take a backseat approach and not contest the elections. Most of the – I would say 17 of the 33 RCA affiliated — districts are calling me and messaging me for the last four months to put my candidacy forward, and saying how could you give this up. I just think it was the right thing to do, firstly, for cricket in Rajasthan, for the people of Rajasthan, and also for my personal career, what I have to do in the months ahead in terms of business,” he explained.
What were the reasons for which Alwar’s suspension?
“Alwar’s suspension was quite clear — for no reason except for the fact that I am Lalit Modi’s son. That was the only reason Alwar was suspended, and so was Nagaur and Partapgarh districts because it [RCA] is under the impression that three districts are controlled not by anyone but Lalit Modi and so that took action suspending these districts. It is unfortunate that people look at things in a way that you cannot do anything on your own,” he rued.
“Ultimately, I wanted to come in — I am 26 years old — I wanted to leave my own mark and do my own thing in Rajasthan. But people, unfortunately, due to my dad’s fame and publicity — and whatever it may be — it seems to be that I will never get the chance of doing that independently without people thinking that I am doing it on his behalf. That’s the only reason Alwar has been suspended. They gave a reason that the district is indirectly or directly controlled my Lalit Modi. That was the actual reasoning they have given on paper,” he pointed out.
On September 6 last year, the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) had reinstated the RCA – the Indian cricket board had suspended Lalit Modi for alleged irregularities in 2010 – conditionally. The few main conditions were that the RCA would not permit Lalit Modi to associate himself either “directly or indirectly”, that it would “terminate membership/association of Lalit Kumar Modi in any capacity with the RCA and its affiliates”; and, that the association would “disaffiliate any RCA affiliate that associates itself with Lalit Modi”.
Now the Congress party is in power in Rajasthan and Lalit Modi was considered close to the previous state government of the BJP. Ruchir alleges it is all politics in cricket.
“In terms of law, I don’t think I’ve done anything wrong by standing for election and wanting to do something myself. But at the end of the way people don’t look at it that day. Previously, when Lalit Modi was the RCA president, prior to my election in 2016, the BCCI suspended the RCA, and no funds were coming to the RCA at all for some years. I don’t think that was legally tenable either. But at the end of the day, I can’t argue and I am not a judge to decide what’s legal and what’s not,” said Ruchir.
“I don’t think I have done anything wrong. No one has challenged me in a court of law for what I have done, and I don’t think my father has done anything legally wrong either because I don’t think any court in India, 10 years since his departure, has convicted him of any wrongdoings whatsoever. So, at the end of the day, it doesn’t make sense. But I can’t change the way politics is run in the BCCI or in the RCA,” he averred.
Politics apart, it seems IPL and Lalit Modi, who conceived the IPL in 2007 and launched it with the BCCI’s help the next year, can’t be separated. Ruchir informed that his father was following the ongoing 13th edition in the United Arab Emirates closely from his London residence. “He is watching all the matches and he is regularly speaking on them in the social media, his Instagram,” he said. (IANS)