IPL scandal - Modi vs Tharoor

Adur Pradeep,correspondent, Pti (KT Exclusive)
Filed on April 15, 2010

With the public showdown between Lalit Modi and Shashi Tharoor over the Kochi team’s stake-holding structure snowballing into a major controversy

The BCCI has decided to convene a meeting of the IPL Governing Council within 10 days to discuss and take a decision on the episode.

A day after Modi’s controversial tweets virtually opened a can of worms on the Kochi franchise of the IPL, the BCCI spokesman Rajiv Shukla said the cricket board viewed the matter seriously.

“BCCI president has decided to convene an IPL Governing Council meeting within 10 days to discuss all the issues and take a decision,” Shukla told reporters after a meeting with Congress president Sonia Gandhi at her residence.

Shukla, who maintained that her meeting with Sonia Gandhi had nothing to do with the Tharoor issue, said, “Whatever allegations have been made from both the sides, all those issues will be deliberated upon at the meeting of the Governing Council.

“I don’t want to make a comment or any observation on what one has said against the other. All I was trying to suggest that all these issues will be discussed in the meeting convened by the BCCI president,” he said.

Asked whether he had a discussion with Sonia Gandhi on Tharoor’s role in the IPL Kochi team, Shukla said, “I had no discussion with Sonia Gandhi on this issue. It was a regular meeting with the AICC president.”

Whether the BCCI took the public spat between IPL commissioner Modi and Minister of State for External Affairs Tharoor seriously, Shukla said, “BCCI president understands the urgency of the issue, that’s why he has convened the meeting.”

Modi had on Sunday disclosed the names of the free equity holders in the little known Rendezvous Sports World (RSW) which coughed up approximately Rs1533 crore to bag the Kochi franchise, a move which put Tharoor in a spot of bother as Sunanda Pushkar, a lady reportedly close to the minister, figured in the list.

Miffed by the disclosure, RSW threatened to send a legal notice to Modi and accused the IPL Commissioner of breaking the confidentiality terms. The Kochi franchise has also complained to BCCI president Shashank Manohar about Modi’s indiscretion.

Modi hinted there was pressure on him not to reveal the details of who all owns Rendezvous.

“I was told not to get into who owns Rendezvous, specially Sunanda Pushkar. Why?” said Modi.

“You had mentioned that we should ignore who this owner is but our condition requires us to authenticate who they are. What I have put on Twitter is in no way breach of confidentiality as who the shareholders are we have always provided in the past and it is not a matter to hide. Further, it is the Kochi franchisee who has a lot to hide and as such have lied about who are the actual owners of the shares,” Modi added.

Tharoor had all along denied having a stake in the Kochi franchise, saying he played merely a facilitator’s role.

In a lengthy rejoinder today, Tharoor denied calling Modi and requesting him not to disclose details of the RSW stakeholders.

Earlier report:

Union minister Shashi Tharoor, locked in a fresh controversy around the Kochi IPL team which he helped set up, on Monday hit back at IPL boss Lalit Modi alleging he had made attempts to pressure the winning consortium to abandon their bid for the Kerala outfit.

Tharoor also denied that he had told Modi not to ask details about owners of the consortium led by Rendezvous that bought the new franchisee.

In a statement, the minister of state for external affairs trained his guns on the powerful cricket board official alleging that various attempts were made by Modi and others to pressure the members of the consortium to abandon their bid in favour of another city in a different state.

According to reports, Ahmedabad was being mentioned as the other city.

“I deny Mr Lalit Modi’s allegation that I called him during his meeting with investors in the Kochi consortium in Bangalore on Saturday night in order to press him not to question the composition of the consortium,” Tharoor said. Voicing his displeasure at the turn of events which saw him pitted against Lalit Modi, Tharoor also tweeted, “I have had enough.”

“Rendezvous includes a number of people including many I have never met, and Sunanda Pushkar, whom I know well,” he said. Tharoor is reportedly planning to marry Sunanda.

Tharoor said he was issuing the statement in a personal capacity to respond to the allegations made against him personally.

He said Rendezvous bid successfully in an open and transparent process. “Their unexpected success upset the plans of a lot of powerful people, who had wanted the franchise to go elsewhere,” he added.

“Mr Modi raised assorted objections to the bid documents but finally had no choice but to approve them, “ he said.

Tharoor alleged that Modi’s extraordinary breach of all propriety in publicly raising issues relating to the composition of the consortium and himself personally is clearly an attempt to discredit the team and create reasons to disqualify it so that the franchise can be awarded elsewhere.

The minister also emphatically said he did not intend to benefit in any way financially from his association with the Kochi team now or at a later stage.

“My role in mentoring the consortium included several conversations with Mr Lalit Modi, who guided us through the process and presented himself as a trusted friend,” he said.

Tharoor said contemptible efforts have been made to drag in matters of personal life which “I do not intend to dignify by commenting on them.”

The minister said he called Modi to ask why he was further delaying the approval of the franchise when all the legal requirements had been fulfilled.

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