Tharoor row rocks Parliament, both Houses adjourned for day

Tharoor row rocks Parliament, both Houses adjourned for day

Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor talking to the media at Parliament House in New Delhi on Friday. PTI Photo The Rajya Sabha plunged into turmoil as the opposition wanted a full-fledged discussion on the controversy surrounding Tharoor and the Kochi team, leading to adjournment of the House for the day.

Trouble started soon after the House met with opposition BJP demanding suspension of the Question Hour and taking up the Tharoor issue. As the protest continued, Chairman Hamid Ansari adjourned the House within few minutes upto noon.

When the House reassembled, BJP member M Venkaiah Naidu, joined by members from SP, AIADMK and JD(U), said that the government was not taking the concerns of the opposition seriously on this issue.

BJP members trooped into the well of the House forcing the Chair to adjourn the proceedings till Monday.

The Question Hour could not be taken up in the Lok Sabha. The House was adjourned twice over the issue -- once till 12 pm and then till 2 pm after Minister of State for External Affairs Tharoor tabled his statement on the Kochi IPL controversy amid pandemonium created by opposition.

When the House reconvened at 2 pm, SP members trooped into the well of the House asking the Government to sack Tharoor. BJP members also joined in.

Asking opposition parties to let the House run for conducting private members' business, Parliamentary Affairs Minister P K Bansal said, "I don't know for what they (opposition) are doing this. Do they want the House to run or not".

"What are they doing to democracy. A statement (by Tharoor) has already been given. They are hijacking the Parliament," he said. 

Tharoor tried to read out his statement but the opposition members rushed to the well demanding his removal and the consequent uproar preventing him from doing it.

Speaker Meira Kumar asked him to table the statement before adjourning the House.  Outside the House, the minister read it out but took no questions from journalists.

In his statement, Tharoor said Rendezvous, the owners of Kochi franchise, had clarified that it issued "sweat equity" to its associates in lieu of a salary, which is a common practice around the world for start-up ventures.

"No money has changed hands and associates are expected to earn equity by promoting Rendezvous' activities over the next ten years.  In other words, whatever benefits might accrue to the "sweat equity" associates in the future depends on their work for Rendezvous and has nothing to do with me," he said.

Tharoor said it was "unworthy" of any member of the House to imply that a reputed business professional and entrepreneur with a long track record of business success can, because of her gender, only be seen as a front for someone else.

In an apparent attack on IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi, with whom he is involved in an open spat, he said it was essential in democracy that institutions of interest to the general public were run openly rather than restricting their opportunities to a favoured few.

Rejecting opposition charges, Tharoor said his role in mentoring the Kerala consortium was throughout within the bounds of appropriate conduct for a Member of Parliament from Thiruvananthapuram and a member of the Union Council of Ministers.

"No misuse of my official position was involved.  The issue has nothing to do with my ministry.  As a Minister, I was in no no position to influence the bid process, let alone its outcome.

"I did not not grant any favours or benefits within the purview of my ministry to the members of the consortium.... Indeed my ministerial position was altogether irrelevant to the (Kerala) bid and so could not not have been used or misused to ensure its success."
He said the allegation that he had indirectly received personal benefits from this enterprise because the Kochi enterprise include a "close friend of mine" was "particularly wounding" because he had a three-decade career in international public service that had never been sullied by the slightest taint of financial wrong doing.

"Those who know me are aware that money has never been a motivating factor for me in any of my actions or decisions," he said.

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