Scandal-tainted Tharoor goes

Scandal-tainted Tharoor goes

Manmohan, armed with IB report, asks minister to quit

Scandal-tainted Tharoor goes

EXIT: Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor comes out after meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at his residence in New Delhi on Sunday. PTI

The resignation came after the Congress top brass decided that the party could not defend him in the controversy over his ‘mentoring’ role. A Prime Minister’s Office spokesman said Singh accepted Tharoor’s resignation and sent it to President Pratibha Patil for her signature.

Though Tharoor's ‘friend’ Sunanda Pushkar had earlier in the day surrendered her ‘sweat equity’ worth Rs 74 crore in the Rendezvous Sports World (RSW) in a last-ditch attempt to help him wriggle out of the mess, the Congress leadership was not convinced that it would help much to undo the damage caused by the allegations against him or to blunt the opposition attack in Parliament.

Before leaving for West Bengal, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee is understood to have handed over to the Prime Minister a three-page note, which included some input from the Intelligence Bureau and the Revenue department. It seems that the evidence in the prime minister’s hand was enough to convince him that Tharoor had clearly breached official propriety by not just misusing his capacity as a minister, but also being influenced by a woman with whom he is believed to have a romatic relationship.

The Opposition BJP and leftist parties had termed Pushkar’s surrender of ‘sweat equity’ of Rendezvous Sports World as an “admission of guilt” and hinted that they would continue to attack the government in both Houses of Parliament on Monday, if the PM did not ask Tharoor to resign as the minister of state.

The Congress Core Committee — comprising Singh, party president Sonia Gandhi, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Defence Minister A K Antony, Home Minister P Chidambaram and Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel — had a two-hour-long meeting at the PM’s residence at 7 Race Course Road here. Mukherjee, according to the sources, briefed Singh, Gandhi and others about a report compiled by the Intelligence Bureau and the Income Tax department. The finance minister had earlier studied the report and forwarded it to the Prime Minister’s Office with a brief note on the dossier.

According to the highly placed sources in the Congress, the majority of the party’s top leaders were of the opinion that it would be extremely difficult for the party to defend Tharoor against the Opposition attack both inside and outside Parliament. Some Congress leaders argued that allowing Tharoor to continue in office would mean providing the Opposition a steady supply of ammunition against the government.

Sources said Gandhi had agreed with the majority in the Congress Core Committee that the government could not afford to take the additional burden of defending Tharoor at a time when its priority was to get the Finance Bill passed and the Opposition parties were closing ranks to move a cut motion.