Updated: February 22, 2012 14:42 IST

Manmohan, Sonia to decide on Tharoor today

    K. Balchand
    Vinay Kumar
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COLLECTIVE DECISION: The top brass of the Congress party will meet today to decide on Shashi Tharoor
The Hindu
COLLECTIVE DECISION: The top brass of the Congress party will meet today to decide on Shashi Tharoor

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi will decide the fate of Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor, who is embroiled in a controversy relating to Kochi cricket team ownership of the Indian Premier League (IPL).

With a determined Opposition looking all set to keep the political temperature high for the government by pressing its demand for dropping Mr. Tharoor from the Cabinet when Parliament meets on Monday, the Prime Minister, who returned here from his two-nation visit earlier in the day, will discuss with Ms. Gandhi on Sunday all aspects relating to the raging controversy and take a decision on the continuation of Mr. Tharoor in the Council of Ministers.

The perception in the party is that the top brass will also draw a strategy to break the logjam that has stalled the proceedings of both Houses of Parliament since the commencement of the second part of the budget session on Thursday.

Congress managers were worried that the Tharoor issue, stemming from his role in getting an IPL team for Kochi, should not snowball in such a way that it makes things more difficult for the government, which is already under pressure from the Opposition, which intends to press for a cut motion on the Union budget to embarrass it.

The government is also in a tight corner over the Women's Reservation Bill, passed in the Rajya Sabha, but facing stiff opposition in the Lok Sabha.

Sonia briefed

According to sources in the party, Ms. Gandhi was briefed on the Tharoor issue by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Defence Minister A.K. Antony. Mr. Tharoor had met both Mr. Antony and Mr. Mukherjee to explain his case.

Mr. Antony is also the chairman of the party's disciplinary committee and, the sources maintained, that it was his responsibility to review any activity that portrayed the party in an uncharitable light. The two senior leaders are likely to meet the Prime Minister on Sunday.

The decision is likely to be announced in Parliament on Monday in tune with the parliamentary propriety.

Asked if seeking the resignation of Mr. Tharoor would not amount to a victory for the Opposition, a Congress leader, on conditions of anonymity, said the Prime Minister had stated that he would take a decision on the issue after ascertaining all the facts and details on his return.

The leader stressed that Dr. Singh had to take a decision in the interest of the party and the government. None was taller than the party and the government.

Sack Tharoor: Advani

Amid the developments, BJP parliamentary chief L.K.Advani has urged the Prime Minister to sack Mr. Tharoor for allegedly getting embroiled in the Kochi IPL team controversy.

Accusing the Minister of committing “gross impropriety,” Mr. Advani demanded that the UPA government probe whether he had abused his office in securing pecuniary benefits for himself or for some other person.

Seeks probe

The BJP leader, speaking at a function here, also called for an investigation into all aspects of IPL bidding and to establish whether foreign funds were involved in it.

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