"My sole interest behind mentoring consortium is to steer it towards Kerala"

Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor has denied asking Indian Premier League (IPL) boss Lalit Modi not to disclose the composition of the Rendezvous-led consortium that won the bid for an IPL team.

Admitting his acquaintance with a member of the winning team, the Minister maintained that his sole interest behind “mentoring'' the consortium was to “steer'' it towards Kerala.

While Mr. Modi initially guided the consortium through the process and presented himself as its “trusted friend,'' its unexpected success upset the plans of a “lot of powerful people'' who wanted the franchise to go elsewhere, said the Minister in a statement.

Mr. Tharoor's clarification came after Mr. Modi disclosed the names of the members of the winning consortium and alleged that the former called him up asking him not to reveal the names.

Mr. Modi's “extraordinary breach of all propriety'' in publicly raising issues relating to the consortium's composition was an attempt to discredit the team and create reasons to disqualify it, so that the franchise could be awarded elsewhere. Mr. Modi raised several objections to the bid documents, but finally had no choice but to approve them, Mr. Tharoor said.

The Minister denied pressuring Mr. Modi not to question the composition of the consortium. Rather, he called up Mr. Modi to ask why he was further delaying the approval of the franchise when all legal requirements were fulfilled. “Had he conducted himself in good faith throughout, no call would have been necessary.''

Mr. Tharoor asserted that his sole interest in “steering'' the consortium to Kerala was that the move had the potential to bring “great material and psychological benefits'' to the State's economy and society.

He said: “I have neither invested nor received a rupee for my mentorship of the team. Whatever my personal relationships with any of the consortium members, I do not intend to benefit in any way financially from my association with the team now or at a later stage.

“It has been clear for some time that the real motive is to assign this IPL team elsewhere than Kerala. All of us in Kerala hope that the BCCI will not permit statements and activities which seek to discredit the Kerala team before it has even had a chance to prove its worth.''

The statement was issued in his personal capacity to respond to the allegations made against him.

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