Tharoor fate in balance as Cong awaits facts to emerge

Tharoor fate in balance as Cong awaits facts to emerge

BCCI likely to appoint co-chairperson for IPL to clip Modis wings

Tharoor fate in balance as Cong awaits facts to emerge

IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi’s position will also not be any stronger after the Income Tax authorities entered the picture on Thursday, beginning a probe into the ownership structures, the shareholding patterns and the sources of funding for the ten IPA franchisees, including Kochi and Pune.  In fact, Modi’s wings may be clipped as the BCCI is likely to appoint Shashank Manohar IPL co-chairperson.

After summoning Tharoor to her 10 Janpath residence Thursday afternoon, Sonia is understood to have told him in the course of a five-minute meeting that he should prepare himself to face Opposition heat in the Lok Sabha.

A reprieve

Congress sources familiar with the developments said indications are that Tharoor may have earned a reprieve “for now.”  But the party high command would let the facts emerge before taking a final view on Tharoor’s fate.

In any case, the Congress leadership would await the return of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh from his current visit abroad before taking a decision on Tharoor. Much could depend on the developments in Parliament.

A team of Income Tax officials visited  IPL headquarters located at the BCCI complex in Mumbai and sought financial details and share holding patterns of all the IPL franchisees. The team’s visit was part of a “source probe” that has been initiated by the Department of Revenue in the Ministry of Finance to look into the financing aspects of the multi-crore IPL in the light of the controversy over the funding of IPL Kochi, government sources said.

Besides the shareholdings, the I-T team will also look into the non-payment of advance tax and the tax deducted at source as well as an old vigilance complaint, sources said.
“Sorry, no comments,” was the only reply of I-T sleuths when accosted by a large posse of mediapersons outside the IPL office.

Joining issue with Tharoor’s close friend Sunanda Pushkar’s claim that she was previously approached by Karim Morani of Kolkata Knight Riders to join them in a capacity similar to the one she enjoys with Rendezvous Sports World (RSW), KKR co-owner Shah Rukh Khan denied offering any role to her.

“Just so that the channels get it right, we never offered a stake in KKR to anybody ever, including this lady in the midst of (the) Kochi thing,” the Bollywood superstar wrote on his Twitter page.

Pawar’s take

The Kochi IPL controversy turned murkier with Union Agriculture Minister and former BCCI president Sharad Pawar contradicting the team’s version and alleging that its owners, the RSW-led consortium, had met him and sought his help in transferring the Kochi team to Ahmedabad.

The owners of the Kochi IPL team have alleged that Modi had pressured them to shift the team to Ahmedabad, perhaps under the influence of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and the Adani business group.

But the Gujarat government sought to distance itself from the IPL controversy with Minister of State for Home Amit Shah describing as baseless allegations that Narendra Modi had applied pressure on Lalit Modi to bring a new team to Ahmedabad. Tharoor’s meeting with Sonia followed his discussions with senior ministers Pranab Mukherjee and A K Antony for the second time in as many days.

The Congress core committee met on Wedmesday evening to take stock of the situation arising out of Tharoor’s involvement in the manner in which Rendezvous Sports World clinched the Kochi team deal. Congress leaders indicated that the party high command would wait for all the facts to surface, especially after the BJP and the Left parties have gone ballistic over Tharoor’s alleged act of “indiscretion” and sought his sack.

“How can we take any action at a time when the BJP will get the advantage and put us in a tight spot?,” a party leader remarked. Congress stance Sources, however, indicated that this was the last time that the minister, who has often courted controversies, may be let off by the party.  The former United Nations official has been fast becoming a liability for the party instead of an asset that he was once thought of, they added.

The BJP will take up the Tharoor issue in both Houses on Friday. Senior party leader S S Ahluwalia said “the issue will be raised during Zero Hour in both Houses”. Soon after Tharoor’s meeting with Sonia and the two ministers, the Congress sprang to the embattled minister’s defence, saying he should not be blamed for being in the news for the wrong reasons.

A Congress leader said the party would respond once it gets all the facts relating to Tharoor’s role in the Kochi IPL row. The Congress had earlier lost no opportunity to criticise Tharoor for his perceived indiscretions, but was subsequently advised to hold fire till his culpability was proved.
Unfolding drama