Almost the entire Opposition on Friday remained firm on its demand for the resignation or dismissal of Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor and continuously created ruckus in both Houses of Parliament, forcing several adjournments, and finally till Monday.
When Mr. Tharoor got up to read a statement on the controversy over a “sweat equity” in IPL Kochi given to his friend Sunanda Pushkar, a number of Opposition members rushed into the well of the House in the Lok Sabha and continued making a din, shouting “barkhast karo” (dismiss him).
Mr. Tharoor was forced to lay his two-page statement on the table of the House.
In his statement, Mr. Tharoor rejected the Opposition charge and said the real motive behind the controversy around him was to move elsewhere the Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise assigned to Kerala. The allegations against him were “baseless, ill-founded and ill-motivated.” Unethical and disgraceful efforts were made to thwart the Kerala franchise. Benefits accruing from cricket “should not be retained only by an influential coterie with interests in a few privileged centres,” he said.
The Minister asserted that his role in mentoring the Kerala franchise was within the bounds of appropriate conduct of an MP from Thiruvananthapuram. He had neither invested money nor received a rupee for his mentorship of the Kochi team. “I have not benefited, and do not intend to benefit, in any way financially from my association with the team now or at a later stage.” No money had changed hands and associates would earn the equity by promoting Rendezvous' (stakeholder in the Kerala franchise) activities over the years, he said.
Mr. Tharoor defended Ms. Pushkar, saying it was “unworthy” of any Lok Sabha member to imply that a reputed business professional and entrepreneur with a long track record of business success could, because of her gender, be seen only as a front for someone else.
As for the “sweat equity” in lieu of salary (allotted to Ms. Pushkar), he said it was a common practice the world over for start-up ventures. The unexpected success of IPL Kochi was not acceptable to some interested parties. “No misuse of my official position was involved.”
In the Rajya Sabha, as the protests continued, Chairman Hamid Ansari adjourned the House. When it reassembled, the BJP's M. Venkaiah Naidu, joined by members from the Samajwadi Party, the AIADMK and the Janata Dal (United), said the government was not taking the concerns of the Opposition seriously.
Tharoor should step down: Farooq
Outside Parliament, Union Minister Farooq Abdullah, speaking on CNN-IBN's Devil's Advocate programme, said he favoured Mr. Tharoor stepping down to protect the “honour” of the government and said the MP should have revealed his relationship with Ms. Pushkar right from the beginning.
“Well, then my decision would be… I would go… not only for honour of mine but for that of the country and the government,” he said when asked whether he would have stepped down had he been in Mr. Tharoor's place.