An unrelenting Opposition mounted a sharp attack in the Lok Sabha on the United Progressive Alliance government on Monday, demanding a ban on the Indian Premier League and the setting up of a Joint Parliamentary Committee to probe the sources of funding of the cricket teams.
This came a day after Shashi Tharoor resigned as Minister of State for External Affairs over his controversial role in the Kochi IPL franchise.
The government said “no guilty or wrongdoer” would be spared and assured the House that all aspects of funding would be probed.
While the Opposition parties slammed the IPL format of the game, alleging that it was a “betting and gambling ring” where blackmoney was being “white-washed,” Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said “appropriate action as per law” would be taken if any wrongdoing was found in the manner of funding.
“The department concerned has already started investigation. All aspects, including sources of funding and routes through which the funds arrived, would be looked into. No guilty or wrongdoer will be spared,” Mr. Mukherjee said.
His response came after the Left parties, the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Rashtriya Janata Dal, the Samajwadi Party, the Janata Dal (United), and the Bahujan Samaj Party alleged that the IPL tournament involved “laundering of blackmoney” and demanded that the government take over it. They also welcomed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's decision to seek the resignation of Mr. Tharoor.
The IPL issue was raised as soon as the House assembled for the day. RJD leader Lalu Prasad, SP president Mulayam Singh and JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav demanded that the Centre ban the tournament.
Even as Speaker Meira Kumar appealed to them to allow question hour proceed peacefully, Mr. Sharad Yadav said: “The moot question is the IPL, and not Shashi Tharoor.”
Raising the matter during zero hour, CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta said that while he welcomed Dr. Singh's decision to ask Mr. Tharoor to quit, the main issue related to the IPL. Alleging that the game involved “laundering” and “white-washing” of blackmoney, he said it was an “aberration” taking place right “under the nose of the Finance Ministry.”
Mr. Dasgupta termed the T20 format a “caricature” of cricket, which was only “maligning and diluting cricket, sending a message to budding players to go to 20:20 to earn huge sums of money.” “Players are bought like vegetables. Betting is taking place openly. It is not cricket, but an organised gamble.” He also pointed to reports that funds were coming from dubious sources in Mauritius and Dubai as well as from Swiss banks.
BJP's Deputy Leader in the Lok Sabha Gopinath Munde said the IPL was not set up to encourage cricket, but to make money. “It involves a lot of blackmoney.”
In the Rajya Sabha, the issue was raised by Shivanand Tiwari of the JD(U), who demanded that the funds of the IPL and the BCCI be confiscated.