Once again Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and his family are busy defending their role or the lack of it in the IPL. While denials have come thick and fast from the Pawars, they have admitted to owning a minority stake of 16 per cent in City Corporation Limited (CCL), through its two companies Lap Finance and Consultancy and Namratta Film Enterprises which together own 33.6 lakh shares in CCL.
While Mr. Pawar and his daughter Supriya Sule have been consistently denying any involvement with the IPL, a news report in a daily has information to the contrary. CCL is the Pune-based construction company that had bid Rs.1176 crore for the IPL franchise. Even though the Pune IPL team was announced over two months ago, the controversy surrounding its bid continues.
CCL's Managing Director Aniruddha Deshpande told The Hindu that following the decision of the Board of Directors, he had bid for the IPL in his ‘individual capacity.'
“I had used the name of City Corporation Limited to get the tender in the second week of March. This was before the Board of Directors' meeting (March 17 ). After that I had submitted a letter to the IPL Chairman clearly stating that in the event that City Corporation won the bid, a new Consortium of stakeholders would be created and the stakeholders of the Corporation would have no financial or legal liability towards the new consortium. The Pawar family is not involved in this in any way. I don't understand why this matter has come out now and why anyone should be angry,” he said.
In the morning, Ms. Sule spoke to the media and gave out the minutes of the CCL's Board of Directors meeting and a letter from Arun Mehta, chairman of the meeting, to Mr. Deshpande. According to the minutes of the meeting held on March 17, 2010, it was decided that, “the CCL would not participate in the IPL tender.”
Mr. Deshpande explained that since the tender was already obtained in the name of CCL, further application was required to be done in the name of the said company. The Board noted the ‘technical difficulty' and said that if Mr. Deshpande or any other shareholder of the Company wants to participate in their personal capacity they may do so but no financial commitments of deposits, bank guarantees, etc. will be borne by the Company. Mr. Deshpande may take administrative help from the company in bid making, the minutes said.
This was reiterated in the letter to Mr. Deshpande dated March 19, 2010, from Mr. Arun Mehta. The letter once again says “it was decided that CCL will not participate in the IPL tender. If any of the Associates or directors wish to bid, they should do so in their personal capacity. CCL will not have any financial liability and no financial involvement in the said tender.”
Meanwhile Ms. Sule clarified that her family only owned a minority stake in the company. “We have 16 per cent only and none of us, neither my father, mother nor me are on the board of directors. There are 84 per cent shares held by others,” she told The Hindu.
“We had already taken a decision not to make a bid and this is there in the minutes of the meeting. How can we be held accountable for the actions of other people?” she asked. She reiterated that no one from the Pawar family is involved in the bid or in IPL. “As minority stakeholders how can we be responsible? We have nothing to do with it. What are you hanging me for? My accountability lies with my constituency,” she pointed out.