‘Nothing wrong in disclosing stakeholders'

Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar on Thursday came out in support of IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi, saying there was nothing wrong in making public the names of the stakeholders of the Kochi franchise.

“There in nothing wrong in disclosing the names of the stakeholders to the public,” Mr. Pawar, former BCCI chief and ICC president-elect, said.

He was asked about Mr. Modi revealing the names of the Kochi stakeholders, one of them being Sunanda Pushkar, a close friend of Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor. Mr. Tharoor is alleged to have had a hand in Ms. Pushkar getting free equity worth Rs. 70 crore in IPL Kochi.

Mr. Pawar was asked by CNN-IBN about questions being raised over transparency in IPL and allegations of underworld and betting syndicates pumping huge amounts in securing franchise.

“If the IPL Commissioner or BCCI president is asking any information about any bid, they have got every right to ask for the information because unless and until they collect the correct information, they will not realise who are behind this,” he said.

The former BCCI president also supported Mr. Tharoor who helped set up the consortium which bagged the Kochi franchise, saying the Minister's “basic interest” was to bring cricket to centre-stage in Kerala and provide opportunities to players from the State.

“What my observation is that Tharoor's basic interest was that Kochi should get opportunity in the IPL. He was eager to show to people of Kerala that IPL is also a part of Kerala and wanted to encourage new players from Kerala,” Mr. Pawar said.

He expressed the hope that the IPL governing council meeting later this month would clear the “misunderstandings.” “I am absolutely clear that when [BCCI president] Shashank Manohar will have this meeting, all misunderstandings will be cleared,” he said.

Mr. Pawar said Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi had no role in the entire episode.

“They [Kochi investors] met me once and there was suggestion that Kochi stadium will take a year or two to complete. So in the meantime if they play in Ahmedabad, that will be better.

“But I advised them ‘you have taken the option of Kochi. Please do not shift the place.' Fortunately that time Narendra Modi was in town. These people met Modi also and in my presence Modi told the investors ‘Don't insist on Ahmedabad because you got this opportunity for Kochi',” he said.

Mr. Pawar said he did not believe Lalit Modi offered the Kochi franchise $50 million to back out. He also questioned the seriousness of the underworld threat that Mr. Tharoor was claimed to have received.

Not my job: Pranab

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee told journalists outside Parliament that it was not his “job” to look into the financial transactions of the IPL and its franchise system.

He was responding to a question on demands to look into the entire system of the IPL franchise and financial transactions involved in it.

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