Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The IPL, politics, and a little bit of drama

All this noise around the IPL, its commissioner Lalit Modi, and Dr. Shashi Tharoor has caught everyone’s fancy off late. For the wrong reasons. But maybe it was meant to....?

There is another proceeding taking place, simultaneously, which has been suppressed by the sheer popularity of the controversy surrounding the Indian Premier League. That of price rise and inflation. Inflation has jumped up to 10% from sub-zero levels a few months back. A silent volcano waiting to erupt.

It might also be interesting to note, that the opposition parties in the Parliament have called for a cut motion. If this cut motion is passed. Quite simply, the government will fall – disastrous for Congress' reputation. In the light of such high stakes, a mere four billion dollar brand (the league) hogging up precious time not only in the media, but also on the floor of the Lok Sabha, could just be a detour to shift the focus off imminent issues and the approaching cut motion.

Analysing this nexus, I would like to begin with Mr. Sharad Pawar, Union minister for agriculture. He might have to face the loudest music for the rising food prices if the cut motion is passed next week. I have never read or come across a single article in the damned media raising questions over his suspicious (and massive) hold on real estate/businesses/properties/even some of the biggest media houses/etc all over the country that, actually, amount to greater worth than that of the Ambani brothers combined.

His over-zealous participation in cricket politics, off-late, than in his ministry portfolio (of agriculture), in front of the media calls for something very clever. In very subtle ways the light has been thrown off of what holds potentially disastrous consequences for him and his government.

Secondly, the income tax raids on the IPL offices and broadcasting companies. What is the I-T department at the end of the day? A part of the finance ministry, and therefore; a part of the government. (Of course it isn’t a part of the day-to-day politics that take place in Delhi, it is an integral part nonetheless.)
The government, as per its fancy, can “influence” the I-T department to conduct raids. Which explains the hullabaloo surrounding the raids on the IPL. And come on, like everyone was so dumb that they didn’t know about the hanky-panky transactions and violations of investment laws that obviously took place in a fast-growing, billionaire fueled, business such as the IPL!

Thirdly, Dr. Tharoor. With my interactions with certain senior Congress Party members in Delhi last November, I concluded that there is a stark resentment against the ways of Dr. Tharoor. Giving him the boot because his ways are transparent, and he uses a little too much of Twitter would have called for serious flak from the international community (in which Dr. Tharoor impeccably served for 27 years on the trot!)
He seemed the perfect bait for the entire IPL story. So that fits well too.

Lastly, Mr. Lalit Modi. It is a well-known fact, that saving Mr. Pawar, everyone staunchly hates Mr. Modi in the Cricketing politics of India. Surely, for Sharadji, Mr. Modi wouldn’t be much of a sacrifice to save an entire government at the end of the day. Meanwhile, many other powerful people will be happy too. It will be interesting to see how that unfolds on April 26th. What advantage he does have, is the unrelenting support from franchisee owners; India’s respectful throb, SRK and liquor billionaire Mallaya. This will be a real interesting battle to see.

There is nothing novel in this move, if at all it is one. This is what politics is. What started as an innocent little contemptuous tweet, turned into a potential juggernaut, that the Congress seems to have fired in the hole!