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Apr 24, 2010 at 11:40pm IST

Backed by franchises, Modi refuses to quit

New Delhi: Clearly the gloves are off and friends have turned into sworn enemies. IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi knows he is on his way out. Even as Modi continues to find himself at the centre of a raging storm, support for him from the IPL franchises continues unabated.

A last ditch attempt was made to break the ice between the warriors by the strongman of Indian cricket late on Friday night. Union Minister Sharad Pawar stepped in to broker calm as Indian cricket threatened to implode.

BCCI President Shashank Manohar spoke to Modi for the first time in 15 days, in a telephonic conversation that was initiated by Pawar. Manohar told the embattled Modi that he has to quit considering the 'extraordinary situation' Indian cricket was facing, according to sources.

Manohar is also believed to have told Modi that an 'honourable exit' is ready. Modi would have to quit by April 25 and then there would be no witch-hunt against him. The assurance that he would stay as BCCI vice-president was the added compensation package. And even as Pawar prodded his protege not to drag the board to court, Modi is said to have given his assent.

But even as the board sat on the feasibility of the 'compromise formula', support swelled in for the billion dollar man with influential franchise owners throwing in their support behind Modi.

Royal Challengers Bangalore owner Vijay Mallya said, "Modi is a good friend of mine. We met yesterday at the IPL awards night. He has done a spectacular job and justice should be done to him.

Another franchisee co-owner Jay Mehta of the Kolkata Knight Riders said: "It looks like a trial by media. One does not know what's right and what is wrong. Modi did a good job. He is being made a fall guy. He should be given an opportunity to explain his side. I will support him to the very end."

But even as the buzz about his imminent exit grew louder, Modi suddenly came out with a retort on Twitter saying, "People pressuring me to resign - I can tell you will not happen. Let them remove me then."

Though the sudden defiance isn't understood, Modi's twitter-buddy and KKR owner Shah Rukh Khan seems to have dropped a hint immediately after the IPL awards Friday night.