New Delhi: The Indian Premier League (IPL) Kochi team ownership controversy has snowballed into a bitter battle between External Affairs Minister Shashi Tharoor and IPL commissioner Lalit Modi.
The issue began few days ago when the IPL Kochi team franchisee, Rendezvous Sports World Pvt Ltd, was issued an ultimatum from BCCI to clarify over the alleged 25 per cent stake sale of the team to unknown buyers.
The minister's name was dragged in when Modi revealed the names of some of the owners of the consortium that bought the franchisee. He alleged that Tharoor had asked him to not to ask who the shareholders were.
Besides asking Modi not to seek the identity of the Rendezvous stakeholders, Tharoor also drew negative attention when it was learnt that Sunanda Pushkar, who is reportedly set to marry the minister, also was one among the stakeholders revealed by Modi.
Media reports say that Sunanda, a socialite who has been seen with Tharoor on various occasions, owns 18 per cent of Rendezvous shares.
These latest developments in the Kochi team controversy has led to many questions being raised against Tharoor, who had earlier claimed that he only advised the Kochi bidders and he had no involvement beyond that.
The minister on Tuesday, Apr 13 released a press statement on the IPL allegations, which read,
"A consortium led by Rendezvous was set up to bid for an IPL team. They approached me for help and guidance. I steered them towards Kerala. Rendezvous includes a number of people, including many I have never met, and Sunanda Pushkar, whom I know well.
"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."
Besides trying to clear off his name from the controversy, the minister has now alleged that "Modi and others to pressure the consortium members to abandon their bid in favour of another city in a different state."
The Congress, on the other hand, has made it clear that it wants to have nothing to do with Tharoor's IPL controversy or his marriage plans.