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Tharoor quits post & pal Sunanda franchise
Oppn pressure works, PM accepts resignation
Anita Katyal
Our Political Correspondent

New Delhi, April 18
Under fire from the Opposition and his own party for his involvement with the Kochi IPL franchise, beleaguered Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor finally put in his papers late tonight after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh gave him his marching orders. His resignation was accepted and forwarded to the President.

Tharoor, 54, has been accused of misusing his office to get sweat equity to the tune of Rs 70 crore for his friend Sunanda Pushkar in the deal. Earlier in the day, Pushkar exited the Kochi franchise but this offer did not help as the Opposition branded it as an admission of guilt.

The decision to ask Tharoor to quit the council of ministers was taken at a two-hour meeting of the Congress core committee, attended by the Prime Minister, party president Sonia Gandhi and senior ministers Pranab Mukherjee, AK Antony and P Chidambaram. It is learnt that the overwhelming view at this meeting was that Tharoor's continuation in the government had become untenable and that he had committed financial impropriety, which would neither be tolerated nor defended by the party. Tharoor was summoned to the PM’s residence after the meeting and told to tender his resignation.

Earlier in the day, the embattled minister called on the PM to explain his position. A united Opposition has been pressing for Tharoor’s resignation on grounds of financial impropriety and had disrupted Parliament on this issue last week. It was planning to raise this matter again on Monday and demand that the Prime Minister should explain his minister’s conduct.

Since the controversy involving Tharoor had erupted when the Prime Minister was overseas, the Congress leadership had been awaiting his return to take a final call on this issue. Tharoor had called on the Congress president and had met Pranab Mukherjee and Antony to explain his side of story, after which he was allowed to give a personal explanation in the Lok Sabha. The Congress had distanced itself from Tharoor from the very outset while nobody from the government came out to defend Tharoor who was left to fend for himself.

Congress sources had been indicating for the past two days that the leadership was not convinced with his explanation and it was waiting for Prime Minister to return from his trip to take a final call on this matter. This is not the first time that Tharoor has landed in trouble, but he always used to manage to get away with it because of the indulgence showed to him by both Prime Minister and the Congress president.

However, neither of these leaders was prepared to show any leniency to Tharoor this time, as the Kochi IPL controversy was clearly seen as a case of financial impropriety, which was established in a dossier presented by Pranab Mukherjee at this evening’s core committee meeting. There was a view that the party would be conceding victory to the Opposition, if Tharoor were asked to resign at this juncture, but this view was overruled as both the PM and party chief are known to be firm on matters of financial corruption.

Besides, the government’s first priority is the transaction of crucial financial business in Parliament and it did not want Opposition's unity to get further strengthened on this issue. As it is, the ruling combine has to worry about the cut motions planned by Opposition on finance bills.






Controversial stint

New Delhi: Controversy became the other name for Shashi Tharoor, who parachuted into the rough and tumble of Indian politics from the air-conditioned and cushy environs of international diplomacy. The year-long turbulent political career of the flamboyant diplomat saw him leaping from controversy to controversy leaving his party Congress as also the government red-faced from time to time.

The first-time MP from Thiruvananthapuram was an unconventional politician who broke many unwritten rules of politics and raised many an eyebrow by ‘tweeting’ on matters — both personal and not so personal.

The nemesis for the Minister of State for External Affairs came after he was the centre of much glitz and glamour when he “mentored” the IPL team for Kochi and came in conflict with IPL commissioner Lalit Modi.

The former UN Under-Secretary General never jelled with the politics of the Congress in his native Kerala as local leaders always dubbed him as a paratrooper who landed in Thiruvananthapuram much against their wishes.

Though his ‘tweeting’ on foreign policy matters evoked much ire in the establishment, his doctoral thesis ‘Reasons of State’ is considered a must-read in courses on Indian foreign-policy making. Tharoor, at the age of 22, had become the youngest person in the history of the Fletcher School to be awarded a doctorate.

The London-born Tharoor, who resigned from the United Nations after his unsuccessful bid for its Secretary General, flew to Dubai to become the chairman of Dubai-based Afras Ventures, which established the Afras Academy for Business Communication (AABC) in Thiruvananthapuram. Later, he was declared a candidate for the Lok Sabha seat from Thiruvananthapuram and won by a margin of around 1,00,000 votes. He was then inducted in the ministry.

Tharoor has also written a number of books in English. Most of his literary creations are centred on Indian themes. ‘The Great Indian Novel’, published in 1989, is widely read as he uses the narrative and theme of the famous Indian epic Mahabharata to weave a satirical story of Indian life in a non-linear mode with the characters drawn from the Indian Independence Movement.

His novel ‘Show Business’ was made into the film ‘Bollywood’. The late Ismail Merchant had announced his wish to make a film of Tharoor’s novel ‘Riot’ but it did not materialise as the legendary film maker died soon. — PTI




Opposition hails resignation

New Delhi, April 18
Opposition tonight hailed Shashi Tharoor’s resignation as Union Minister saying his position had become “untenable” in the wake of the Kochi IPL ownership controversy.

“Tharoor’s position had become untenable and it was only appropriate that he resigned. There was so much evidence against him. The lady giving back her equity does not absolve him of the charges,” said BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman. CPI leader D Raja said that the exit of Tharoor became inevitable and Congress should have taken a decision long back when the controversy exploded. Since there were serious allegations of Tharoor’s involvement in the Kochi IPL franchise, his continuance in the government became untenable. The reported decision of Sunanda Pushkar surrendering her stake is itself “an admission of guilt”, he said.

The entire IPL functioning and its accountability needed to be probed and the role of of this Sports Ministry will have to be redefined so that a regulator is created to monitor, Raja demanded. Congress Spokesperson Jayanti Natarajan said the government has taken the “correct moral stand”.

“The Congress has nothing to do with the IPL. It was an issue of an individual minister. The Party has acted with utmost restraint. It went through a very decent process by which it collected facts and a final view was taken by the Prime Minister,” she said. — PTI




Politicians, businessmen rig IPL bids: BJP

Kolkata, April 18
Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Murli Manohar Joshi today said the much-talked about Indian Premier League (IPL) controversy clearly showed an unscrupulous relation between politicians and businessmen in the country.

“The IPL scandals have seriously exposed how political leaders and businessmen are participating and manipulating the bids on the teams,” Joshi told a press conference here at the Kolkata Press Club.

“At a time when our country is facing serious problems like Maoist violence and terrorism, ministers are busy converting the IPL into an agency to loot public money,” he added. “We want a thorough investigation into the whole issue,” he added.

Joshi also criticised the UPA government, saying, “The Central government has no road map ready to control price rise.” “The BJP will hold a mass rally in New Delhi on April 21 to protest the skyrocketing prices of essential commodities across the country,” he added. — IANS



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