Jaipur, June 16: Behind the powerful cricket baron was the woman he apparently called "Vasu". Lalit Modi would have been just another tycoon but for Vasundhara Raje, goes the accepted wisdom in Rajasthan.
Family ties had thrown them together. Modi's grandmother and Raje's mother Vijayaraje Scindia were friends and fellow devotees of Anandamoyee Ma. Raje was said to be close to Modi's mother Bina.
Modi's rise up the rungs began just months after Raje became chief minister in late 2003. She issued a controversial ordinance that helped Modi wrest the Rajasthan Cricket Association from the four-decade-old stranglehold of the Rungta family in 2005, paving his road to the Board of Control of Cricket in India (BCCI). The ordinance allowed Modi to deny voting rights to 59 of the RCA's 92 members. None dared challenge a man who enjoyed so much power under Raje that the Opposition called him "super chief minister".
Bureaucrats were sent with files to Modi's plush suite at the heritage hotel where he stayed during his Jaipur visits. Sources said most of the files related to land deals that facilitated big builders' entry into the state - the Congress alleged that every major land deal needed his clearance.
"He was often rude to senior officials," a source said.
Modi's downfall began after Raje was unseated in December 2008. He lost the RCA elections in 2009. By 2010, hemmed in by corruption charges and suspended by the BCCI, he fled to London.
After Raje returned to power in December 2013, Modi's fortunes seemed to flicker briefly back to life. He won the RCA election in March 2014, remote-controlling it from London, despite BCCI opposition.
But Raje had already begun distancing herself, realising he was a hot potato politically. Last October, Modi was ousted in a surprise RCA coup by Amin Pathan, the head of the BJP minority cell who apparently had Raje's support.
Political observers say Modi had already upset Raje before the 2013 elections by tweeting that BJP leaders Arun Jaitley, Bhupendra Yadav and Dhirendra Kamthan were selling tickets. Modi and Jaitley belong to rival cricketing camps while Yadav is believed to have been a Raje confidant.
Modi fell out publicly with Raje when, after his RCA exit, he posted tweets accusing her of being surrounded by "crooks" and backed the BJP's Om Mathur for chief minister.
Mathur is believed to be close to the Prime Minister unlike Raje.