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Tharoor in the dock, Oppn. stalls parliament over IPL row
NEW DELHI, APR 16 (IANS)
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Published on 17 Apr. 2010 12:09 AM IST
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Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor Friday said he had not misused his position to influence the IPL Kochi franchise but found few takers in the opposition that continued to bay for his resignation while the clouds of suspicion over the cricket extravaganza darkened.
It was the combustible mix of Tharoor, cricket and money that stalled both houses of parliament, which were finally adjourned till Monday. If Thursday was devoted to protests about the Maoist massacre in Chhattisgarh, Friday was Tharoor’s day.
With only a day to go before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh returns from his weeklong trip to the US and Brazil to decide on his political future, Tharoor pleaded innocence to allegations that he was linked to the Kochi franchise through his friend Sunanda Pushkar, a shareholder who received free equity.
He tried to read his statement in the Lok Sabha but the clamour for his resignation drowned him out. He could just lay his statement on the table.
“The allegations against me which have been seized upon by honourable members of the opposition are baseless, ill-founded and ill-motivated,” Tharoor said in the statement.
“No misuse of my official position was involved,” he said, adding that his role in mentoring the Kerala consortium was “throughout within the bounds of appropriate conduct...”
The former high ranking UN bureaucrat said the suggestion that he had “indirectly received personal benefits from this enterprise because the Rendezvous management team, who hold stakes in the venture, includes a close friend of mine... is particularly wounding.
“I have had a three-decade career in international public service that has never been sullied by the slightest taint of financial wrongdoing.”
While the political waters got murkier, the tax administration, which paid a visit to the Mumbai offices of the Indian Premier League (IPL) Thursday night in a bid to probe the source of the money, proposed similar investigation in other cities to ascertain the source of funds of the various franchises.
“This will be an ongoing process...,” a top official in the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) told IANS in New Delhi after the nightlong examination of documents and records related to the IPL and its commissioner Lalit Modi, who was questioned for over seven hours.
According to top officials here, the operation in Mumbai was primarily to establish that the source of money involved in the cricketing extravaganza was “clean” with no loss to the exchequer on account of evasion.
Officials said their main concern was black money abroad and tax evasion. They added that just as they try to prevent such ill-gotten funds from going out the country, they also try to probe if it is channelled back into India illegally.

 
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