M A I N   N E W S

Friend speaks up for Tharoor, underworld guns for him
Tribune News Service & Agencies

New Delhi, April 14
Despite a spirited defence put up by his Dubai-based friend, Sunanda Pushkar, Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor went through another troubled day today, all because of his alleged role in helping Pushkar acquire a stake in a franchise owning a cricket team for the Indian Premier league. But an unfazed Tharoor on Wednesday ruled out the possibility of putting in his papers. Why should he resign because of false charges levelled by vested interests, he asked.

The minister is said to have received a death threat from the underworld and advised to apologise to IPL commissioner Lalit Modi. It was Modi who had set the cat among the pigeons by claiming that Tharoor had asked him not to make inquiries about ownership of the Kochi team and revealed that Pushkar had been given a ‘free’ equity worth Rs 70 crore.

Tharoor’s security was beefed up during the day even as the PM said in Washington that action would be taken, if necessary, against Tharoor. With both the BJP and CPM training their guns at Tharoor and demanding his resignation, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi consulted senior Congress leaders about the fall-out in Parliament, which re-convenes tomorrow after a recess.

Kochi team CEO Shailendra Gaikwad, meanwhile, told the media that Modi had offered US $50 million and advised the franchise to sell the team, confirming Tharoor’s allegation that Modi was deliberately putting up roadblocks to favour a business group from Gujarat.

Pushkar, meanwhile, in a telephonic interview to PTI, debunked the media trial of the minister and described Tharoor as a ‘kind’ and ‘honest’ person. “He is a great and principled guy,” she said while denying that her relationship with the minister had anything to do with the franchisees giving her free equity

“My personal relationship is nobody’s business and if I have to announce a marriage, I will do so myself and not leave it to strangers,” she said.

Reminding critics that she is a businesswoman with international business experience, Pushkar, a widow who has raised a teenaged son as a single parent, claimed that she had been advising the owners of the Kochi team on marketing and branding. The ‘sweat equity’ offered to her was an international norm and it was unfair for the media to present her as a proxy for Tharoor.

While Tharoor kept away from the media and Twitter, the battlelines seem to have been drawn with the controversy casting a shadow on the ownership pattern in the Indian Premier League.





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