M A I N   N E W S

IPL guilty won’t be spared: Pranab
Oppn wants blanket ban on league
Aditi Tandon/TNS

New Delhi, April 19
With the Opposition projecting the IPL mess as the “mother of all evils” in Lok Sabha today, the government went all out to promise action against every wrong-doer involved in the controversy.

None other than Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee assured the House that no one would be spared in the clean- up act that was underway to trace the source of money invested in the league, which just cost the UPA its Minister of State for External Affairs Minister Shashi Tharoor.

“I can assure you that all controversial aspects of the IPL will be probed, including the sources of funding, how the funds were routed and invested. No guilty or wrong-doer will be spared,” Pranab said in Lok Sabha after the buoyed Opposition put Tharoor behind to train its guns on the IPL, consigning to the back-burner its earlier promises of speaking for the “aad aadmi”, especially on the food inflation front. At the end of the day, the Lower House had witnessed its own little Twenty-20 on IPL, with the Opposition and the UPA slugging it out.

No sooner did the House assembled, the Yadav trio — Lalu Prasad (RJD), Mulayam Singh (SP) and Sharad Yadav of (JDU) clamoured for a ban on IPL and the constitution of a joint parliamentary committee to probe its business deals. “It is nothing but a betting and gambling ring,” they said, as Speaker Meira Kumar insisted that Question Hour be allowed to run.

Later in Zero Hour, CPI’s Gurudas Dasgupta, in his trademark aggression, said the business of IPL involves “laundering of black money from Swiss and Mauritian banks”. He wanted a ban on the league and a JPC probe into it. “IPL is an aberration taking place under the nose of Finance Ministry. This format is nothing but a caricature of cricket that’s misleading promising cricketers towards the road to easy money,” Dasgupta said, slamming the league as organised gamble. He was supported by RJD’s Lalu Prasad Yadav, who alleged that dirty deals are being sealed in the IPL business. Mulayam Singh went a step further and demanded a ban on cricket. His logic was: “Cricket is a western game that’s routing out Indian games.” “Ban cricket. Give other games more importance,” said the Samajwadi Party supreme.

This prompted JDU’s Sharad Yadav to take digs at Sports Minister MS Gill.

“The Sports Minister talks a lot against IPL but does nothing. This tool for marketing of cricket must be seized. All IPL promoters must be exposed. The league is a home to dirty money,” he said, vacating the stage for BJP’s Gopinath Munde. The Congress-NCP government in Maharashtra needs to explain that why IPL was being given tax rebates and why cheerleaders were being allowed a free run in stadiums, when the bar girls were prohibited to do business in the state.





Tharoor likely to make statement in LS
Anita Katiyal & Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

Shashi TharoorNew Delhi, April 19
Former Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor is now expected to make a statement in the Lok Sabha tomorrow to explain his position regarding his involvement in the IPL Kochi franchise.

Though Tharoor has already given a personal explanation in this connection last week, this will be second opportunity for him to place his viewpoint on record.

According to government sources, a minister who resigns from the council of minister has the right to make a statement in Parliament. Tharoor met Finacne Minister and Lok Sabha leader Pranab Mukherjee in this connection. Party sources said Tharoor’s statement was likely to be vetted by Mukherjee. His previous explanation had also been cleared by the senior leader. Tharoor resigned form the council of ministers last night following allegations that he misused office to get Rs 70 crore worth sweat equity for his friend Sunanda Pushkar from the IPL Kochi team owners.

UPA sources said since Tharoor had been implicated in a case of financial impropriety, it was agreed that he should be allowed to give his side of the story and clear the taint. “This would facilitate his re-entry into politics at a later stage,” explained a senior UPA minister. It was felt that since Tharoor had agreed to step down, he should be given a chance to defend himself.

It was also revealed that Tharoor was asked to resign after the government’s own internal probe had conclusively shown that he had committed financial impropriety. The dossier put together by the Intelligence Bureau, it is learnt, contained details of the text messages Tharoor had exchanged with the IPL commissioner Lalit Modi which stated that his OSD Jacob John would be in touch with him with regard to the IPL Kochi franchise.



BJP not naming other ministers
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 19
Even as the BJP appeared a bit stunned by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s decision to seek resignation of his Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor, the party seems to shy away from naming other ministers involved in the Indian Premier League.

Media reports have mentioned that at least two other UPA ministers, both from Maharashtra, are as deeply involved in the IPL’s financial affairs as Tharoor aspired to be.

But when asked why BJP was keeping quiet about the other ministers whose financial involvement with the IPL has been reported widely in the media, Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitely simply shrugged his shoulders and said, “This is an intra-UPA matter.”



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