By Karthik Shankar:
A fugitive with money connections; covert exchange of favours; the involvement of an External Affairs minister, a Chief Minister and a British Member of Parliament; and a dash of glamour. All these potboiler elements could make up the next James Bond film, but we have Lalit Modi to thank for these entertaining shenanigans.
After embroiling Sushma Swaraj in a controversy related to her helping him procure travel documents in Britain, the Modi web has entangled yet another BJP leader. What’s funnier is that it was his public relations team that did it. They released documents that showed that Vasundhara Raje, the Chief Minister of Rajasthan was a secret witness for his application for travel documents. He also claimed in an interview with Rajdeep Sardesai that she accompanied his wife for her cancer treatment to Portugal. Interestingly the Rajasthan government signed an MoU with the hospital in which Modi’s wife was treated. The implication of Raje in this scandal is like a gift that keeps giving, considering she was instrumental in anointing him the President of the Rajasthan Cricket Board. It’s like the T. Rex in Jurassic Park getting out of the scientist’s control.
But that’s what is especially gratifying about Modi. His behaviour seems to be driven by nothing but pure self-interest. Because of this he’s no pawn for a political party but a thorn in the flesh for everyone involved. It was his tweet that revealed Sunanda Pushkar had equity stakes in the Kochi IPL franchise and led to the resignation of then External Affairs minister Shashi Tharoor. And the stories emerging have upended the narrative by allowing the Congress to (pretend) it’s the voice of reason. When you inspire dubious politicians like P. Chidambaram and Rahul Gandhi to rail against corruption, you know you’ve done something right.
From the moment Modi built the Indian Premier League, he occupied a premier position among our country’s entertainers. With his industrial family background, Gujju chic accent and fraternity with a bevy of Bollywood and cricket celebrities, Modi built the gold-paved bridge (like the toilet in his private jet) that forever linked the worlds of cricket and Bollywood.
In 2010 after being accused of misappropriating IPL funds, he fled India, fearful of threats to his life. Modi’s behaviour if nothing supports the idea the he is at the centre of his own Jason Bourne conspiracy thriller. His nemesis unsurprisingly is N. Srinivasan, the embattled, former chief of the BCCI. Modi choice of weapon for their one-sided facedown is his Twitter account. It figures that after having a slew of court cases against you and pretty much being in exile, someone would lay low. Not Modi. Unapologetic is coded in his DNA. Modi’s Twitter feed provides a glimpse of the admirable delusions that make up the man. Many of his tweets are in reference to Srinivasan.
— Lalit Kumar Modi (@LalitKModi) September 13, 2013
Modi is also well aware of his role as the typhoon that disturbs the natural order of things.
Now finally it’s my turn to get EVERYTHING OUT. THERE ARE MANY BOMBSHELLS. see for yourselves. Then judge. 💣💣💣💣 🎥📺📻📞💻📰. Now my turn 😄😁😁
— Lalit Kumar Modi (@LalitKModi) June 15, 2015
He also dubbed the Rajdeep Sardesai interview a world exclusive, firmly aware that media reporters in the U.S and China were aching to get a piece of his time.
Modi’s Instagram account is chockfull of the theatrical flair and flamboyance that makes up his personal life. Most of the photos feature him in high society events in exotic locations like Ibiza and Havana with stars like Naomi Campbell and Paris Hilton.
With each day the revelations only grow. Swaraj’s husband and daughter offered him their legal services for free. He sat with his legs on the table when talking to Raje! At some point, the plot becomes so thick and the narrative so confusing that all you can do is focus on the hero. He may have a paunch and wear glasses but he’s our desi Bond alright. Sit back and relax ladies and gentlemen. This is high theatre in the world’s largest democracy.