Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor, who was under a cloud for his alleged involvement in the Kochi IPL cricket franchise bid, resigned late on Sunday night.

Amid mounting political pressure, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh summoned the first-time Minister to his residence after a meeting of the Congress Core Group, and asked him to step down.

An official statement from the Prime Minister's Office said: “Dr. Shashi Tharoor, the Minister of State for External Affairs, has submitted his resignation from the Union Council of Ministers. The Prime Minister has sent his resignation to the President with the recommendation that it be accepted. [President Pratibha Patil has accepted the resignation].''

Mr. Tharoor's fate was sealed at a one-on-one meeting between Dr. Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi just before the meeting of the Core Group of senior Ministers.

The Core Group that met for over two hours discussed the floor strategy in Parliament. The government faces Opposition-moved cut motions on the Finance Bill against increase in prices of petroleum products announced in the budget and against the price rise of essential commodities.

He drove in his private car into the 7 Race Course residence of the Prime Minister at 9.45 p.m., minutes after the Core Group meeting ended. He left 25 minutes later without speaking to the media.

With the issue threatening to snowball into a major embarrassment for the Congress and the United Progressive Alliance government, the Prime Minister, who returned from a foreign tour on Saturday, decided to take a call but not before giving a hearing to Mr. Tharoor. The beleaguered Minister met Dr. Singh in the afternoon for over 45 minutes and explained his role in the row.

On a day of fast moving developments, Mr. Tharoor's Dubai-based executive friend, Sunanda Pushkar, “voluntarily'' offered to surrender her sweat equity worth Rs. 70 crore in the Kochi IPL consortium, prompting the BJP to slam the move as “admission of guilt.''

PTI adds

President accepts Tharoor’s resignation

President Pratibha Patil accepted the resignation of Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor from the Council of Ministers on the recommendation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

According to Rashtrapati Bhavan spokesperson, “The President on the recommendation of the Prime Minister has accepted the resignation of Shashi Tharoor, MoS in MEA from the council of ministers with immediate effect.”

The resignation of Mr. Tharoor was sent to the President in Pune where she is on an official visit.

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