Seeking to defend Lalit Modi in the Indian Premier League row, Union Minister Farooq Abdullah on Tuesday said the Commissioner of the 20-20 cricket tournament should be given a chance to reply to the charges made against him.
“Let us not become judges without hearing the poor man. If there are charges against him, let him reply to them,” the New and Renewable Energy Minister told reporters outside Parliament.
Mr. Abdullah, member of the IPL governing council, was asked if Mr. Modi should resign from his post in the wake of the alleged murky financial dealings of the cash-spinning cricket tournament.
“It would be wrong for me to say whether somebody should go or not,” Mr. Abdullah, also president of the Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association, said.
Asked if the BCCI was hiding the wrongdoings in the IPL, he said, “Nobody is going to hide anything. On 26th [after the BCCI governing council meeting], everything would be clear. If anybody has to go, we will come to know about it on 26th.”
On whether the government was witch-hunting certain individuals involved in the controversy, he said, “Why should the government witch-hunt. What has it got to do with witch-hunting?”
The Minister said fingers were being pointed at Lalit Modi due to the hype around the IPL. “That is why he is in trouble. That is why Shashi Tharoor is in trouble... handsome man,” he said.
Mr. Abdullah had favoured Mr. Tharoor stepping down as Union Minister following the IPL Kochi franchise controversy involving his friend Sunanda Pushkar.
Slander: Praful Patel
The simmering tension between the Congress and the NCP over the IPL controversy came to the fore on Tuesday with Union Minister Praful Patel charging a section of the ruling party with launching a “slanderous campaign” about his involvement in the matter.
“The Congress party per se is not involved in the controversy but a section of it is spreading a slanderous campaign against me,” Mr. Patel, who is also NCP general secretary, told reporters outside Parliament.
His statement came in the backdrop of reports that two Union Ministers were involved in the IPL, which is under a cloud following allegations of betting and money laundering.
“I am happy that the government has ordered a probe into it and now the truth will come out. I have nothing to do with IPL, this I can assure you,” Mr. Patel said.
Not involved: Supriya
Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar's daughter Supriya Sule also sprang to her family's defence on the issue, saying none of her relatives has anything to do with any of the IPL franchises.
Reacting to reports claiming that the name of a powerful Union Cabinet Minister's son-in-law figured in the papers of an industrial group that unsuccessfully bid for a new IPL team, Ms. Sule said her family had nothing to do with it.
“I say with full conviction that my husband [Sadanand Sule] or family has nothing to do with any of these issues. We always stay miles away from it. Yes, we are avid cricket watchers, my husband, my kids, my family all and that's where the buck stops,” Ms. Sule, a Member of Parliament, told reporters here.
“We are all clear. It doesn't matter what people say and spread. I think at the end of the day your conviction matters,” said the NCP MP.
She also threw her weight behind her father and said Mr. Pawar, a former BCCI president, played a neutral role in the Modi-Tharoor spat and it would be wrong to say he backed the IPL Commissioner.
“If you talk about Mr. Pawar, in the first interview he gave on this issue he spoke well about Mr. [Shahshi] Tharoor also. It is unfair to say that he only defended Modi. He even said good things like Tharoor was really keen on Kerala cricket.”
Ms. Sule also defended Mr. Patel, who allegedly lobbied for the Videocon group in the IPL bidding.