When George W Bush ransacked Iraq back in 2003, it was on the pretext that the country had acquired Weapons of Mass Destruction - otherwise known as WMDs. While the country was destroyed and America secured its oil supplies, no WMDs were eventually found. So what became of those WMDs? Well thanks to Lalit Modi, we now know that you need not be in Iraq to find WMDs, you just have to be on twitter.
Twitter? What is that? For those that may be slightly challenged in this age of online social networking, twitter is an online community where you get to send and read tweets of different people. And what are tweets? Well in short, they are 140 characters 'long' messages that were originally started as a way of keeping one’s friends and family informed about ‘what you were upto’
Just how powerful can a 140 character long tweet be?
Consider this tweet that Lalit Modi posted in reply to a certain xxxDEVxxx on the 11th of April at 4:31 PM:
"I was told by him not to get into who owns rendezvous.Specially Sunanda Pushkar.Why?The same has been minuted in my records”
What followed this seemingly harmless tweet was complete mayhem. This is how the events panned out:
The opposition, keen on picking up any issue that could hurt the government, publicly pillored Shashi Tharoor. Tharoor himself gave an invalid excuse saying Sunanda Pushkar got the sweat equity in the franchisee for her role as a marketing executive, forgetting that, as MJ Akbar puts, “You do not get sweat equity in perpetuity, which means free and forever, with a starting value of Rs 70 crore, for being an unknown executive of a Dubai company.” The opposition did not buy this argument and the government was forced to accept Tharoor’s resignation – thereby this becoming the first instance where a minister in the government had to resign for alleged corruption ever since the UPA came into power in 2004.
Having cleaned its own house, the government then trained its guns on Lalit Modi, going through every financial transaction of his. Meanwhile, nationwide raids were carried out on the IPL franchisees to let the public know the government was acting tough. The IPL Commissioner was eventually suspended and the UPA’s ally partner the NCP was brought into the equation as well. Charges were levelled against Sharad Pawar and Praful Patel, and it was just a reminder from the Congress to the NCP as to just who was the boss.
But it did not end there. Somehow it was leaked to the media that Sharad Pawar's phone was tapped at the height of the IPL controversy, including his “conversation” with Lalit Modi. Further reports that followed suggested that this was just the tip of the iceberg and that there was a much wider phone tapping excercise that was going on. This got the opposition united and a cut motion was introduced in the parliament. But during the cut motion, the BJP’s ally in Jharkhand, the JMM voted for the government. This got the BJP worked up and it then decided to withdraw support to the Jharkhand government. The JMM realizing its mistake apologized to the BJP and begged for forgiveness, to which the BJP has said it will consider. And so, as things stand today, the fate of the Jharkhand government hangs in balance.
There is no doubt that had Lalit Modi foreseen what was to follow his tweet he would not have tweeted in the first place. But it’s too late for him now and nothing can be done. This is just the price you pay when you try to become bigger than the system. Lalit Modi thought he could get away by splashing mud on the Kochi franchisee's face, instead he ended up splashing mud on everyone's faces including his own. As for Mr. Tharoor, well it can be now said that he lived by the tweet and died by it.
No one has come out of this episode in shining light – not him, not the government, not the opposition, not the franchisees, not the BCCI, not the IPL and not even the game of cricket. It’s a gloomy episode and a sad state of affairs.
When a tweet from a BCCI vice president can topple a government in Jharkhand, you know the tweet can cause mass destruction. Now only if George Bush knew.
On a lighter note -
Question: If Mayawati owned an IPL team, who would it be led by?
Answer: Dalit Modi!