Red corner notice ahead: 'Maun Modi' govt prepares to bring Lalit Modi down

Lalit Modi may have finally done himself in! Each of the missiles he fired willy nilly at his former friends and eternal foes are headed right back in his direction. Sushma Swaraj may be embarrassed, Vasundhara Raje may be on her way out, but Lalit Modi may well end up alone and in jail, as the biggest casualty of this latest political scandal.

Lakshmi Chaudhry June 21, 2015 21:00:15 IST
Red corner notice ahead: 'Maun Modi' govt prepares to bring Lalit Modi down

Lalit Modi may have finally done himself in! Each of the missiles he fired willy nilly at his former friends and eternal foes are headed right back in his direction. Sushma Swaraj may be embarrassed, Vasundhara Raje may be on her way out, but Lalit Modi may well end up alone and in jail, as the biggest casualty of this latest political scandal.

The reason: He has given his (sur)namesake no choice but to take him down.

Red corner notice ahead Maun Modi govt prepares to bring Lalit Modi down

Lalit Modi. AFP

Even as Lalit Modi is prancing around Montenegro, enjoying his 'life-sized' moment in front of the cameras, Narendra Modi has been enduring a barrage of scathing criticism, the likes of which make the #DespiteBeingAWoman cracks look almost kind in comparison. Last night, people were tweeting out a blank page headlined, "Full text of the statement from the Prime Minister's Office on Sushma-Lalit Modi issue."

The PM's silence has moved his gleeful critics to reach for new heights of eloquence.

“Are there other people involved? The Prime Minister must come clean. He must come out of his political vipassana,” Congress spokesperson Tom Vadakkan said.

“My submission to the Prime Minister is, come out of hiding, enough is enough, and break your silence. So far, Mr Prime Minister, you have chosen silence over action. Now the country would like you to act, not to continue in hiding," piped up Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad.

"There is no way for the centre and PM now, and he has to tell the truth. If the PM mocked his predecessor by calling him `Maun Mohan' Singh, it is fit for him to not become Narendra Maun Modi," said AAP spokesperson Sanjay Singh, delivering what may well be the cruelest blow.

In the past, the Prime Minister has deftly employed strategic silence to ride out a number of controversies, mostly of the kind sparked by the Hindutva motormouths in his party. But as he has since found, staying mum is a policy that offers diminishing returns. Silence that seemed strategic in the first few iterations began to read as complicity (hence his recent clarifications on minority issues), and now inevitably as weakness.

Unfortunately for him, Lalit Modi's salvoes at the Congress party -- he is truly bipartisan when venting his ire -- have not done the same damage. Accusing both Pranab Mukherjee and P Chidambaram of targeting him in retaliation for Shashi Tharoor's IPL scandal doesn't hurt entirely. Whatever their reason, they stand accused of taking action against Lalit Modi, not silently supporting him.

With the threat of yet another Parliament session being derailed by his party's political woes, the PM, however, will have to do, not just speak. And that maybe the worst piece for news for Lalit Modi yet. According to media reports, the Enforcement Directorate is in the process of readying a red corner notice against Modi. The Times of India reports, as a first step, the ED will send "a letter rogatory (a judicial request for evidence) to Mauritius in connection with its money laundering investigation into television rights of IPL facilitated by Modi."

The BCCI had lodged an FIR against Lalit Modi in connection with the Rs 468 crore deal struck between World Sports Group (WSG) and Multi Screen Media (MSM) for television rights of IPL. The complaint in turn led to the ED registering a money laundering case against him, accusing him of being the beneficiary of the money given by MSM to WSG. As TOI notes, "PMLA allows for criminal charges to be pressed against an individual and ED can press for Modi's arrest and extradition from a foreign country through this after an RCN is issued."

All of which means that Lalit Modi's UK staycation may soon be coming to an end.

According to India Today, "Red Corner notice will mean that UK authorities will have to decide on arresting Lalit Modi and extradition proceedings will then be commenced against him. ED sources said that there is enough evidence to nail Modi in the UK courts as well."

Whatever the UPA government did, we can do better. That's the message the Modi sarkar will have to send in the days to come. And dragging Lalit Modi back to India by the scruff of his neck may well be the only way to do it.

Lalit Modi has thus far escaped extradition thanks to the good graces of the controversial and influential British MP Keith Vaz. But now that Vaz himself is under media scrutiny in the United Kingdom -- which is also what led to the present fracas involving Sushma Swaraj -- it is unlikely that he will stick his neck out for Modi any time soon.

Even as he foolishly runs his mouth off in the false safety of distant shores, Lalit Modi is rapidly running out friends and options. And he has given the other Modi every incentive to strip him entirely of the same. While all eyes are trained on the wounds inflicted on Swaraj and Raje, it is Lalit Modi who has stumbled right onto his own sword.

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