With the Opposition raising the pitch for the dismissal of Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor over the Kochi IPL franchise controversy and threatening to stall Parliament , it is expected that a decision on the fate of the Minister may be announced by Monday.
Speculation was rife after a meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi here on Sunday just before the Congress Core Group met to discuss the floor strategy. The government faces Opposition-moved cut motions on the Finance Bill against increase in the prices of petroleum products announced in the budget and against the rise in prices of essential commodities.
Earlier, Mr. Tharoor met the Prime Minister and explained his role. Amid reports that he would ‘quit if asked to,' Mr. Tharoor did not speak to mediapersons after his 45-minute meeting with Dr. Singh.
Mr. Tharoor's Dubai-based friend, Sunanda Pushkar, “voluntarily” offered to surrender her nearly 19 per cent sweat equity worth Rs. 70 crore in the franchise.
Ms. Pushkar said in a statement, read out in Dubai by her lawyer Ashish Mehta, that she was “deeply distressed at the vile and malicious reporting of recent days surrounding her role in Rendezvous, the successful bidders for the Kochi IPL team.”
The statement, accessed by The Hindu, said, “as a woman professional, I am shocked to find how easily certain parties with vested interest questioned my credentials merely because I am a woman. I, therefore, voluntarily offer to return to Rendezvous the sweat equity they had offered me.”
Mr. Mehta denied to The Hindu that Ms. Pushkar made the offer to return the equity under pressure and said it was “sheer coincidence” that it came on the day that the Congress Core Group met. “She had made this decision yesterday [on Saturday].”