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Pawar in IPL storm
Published on 5 Jun. 2010 12:46 AM IST
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Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar Friday denied having any role in an unsuccessful bid for an Indian Premier League (IPL) team by a Pune-based company in which he and his family have equity. But the opposition BJP was prompt to call for the minister’s resignation.
“No member of my family is involved in any IPL team or in the bidding process or has taken interest in bidding,” Pawar told reporters in the capital.
A media report Friday said Pawar and his family members had 16 percent share in City Corporation which had bid Rs.1,176 crore for Pune IPL franchise.
However Pawar, the chief of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), an ally of the ruling Congress in Maharashtra and at the centre, said managing director of City Corporation Anirudh Deshpande had made the bid for the Pune team in his individual capacity.
“The company board had passed a resolution saying that the City Corporation was not involved in the bid. Deshpande had participated in his individual capacity. The company had no connection with the bid. It is clear from the resolution,” said Pawar, a former president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
“The bid was not successful. Pune team was won by Sahara. The process was over,” he said, adding government agencies were already probing into IPL finances and “anyone who has done wrong will face the consequences”.
Defending his father, the NCP chief’s daughter Supriya Sule distanced herself and the family from the bid.
“Remember, my father was the BCCI chief when IPL started and had he wanted, he could have easily bid for a team even then,” she said in Mumbai.
Asked why no one from the Pawar family revealed anything about the bid earlier when the controversy erupted that led to Shashi Tharoor’s resignation as a minister, Sule said: “See, we were just not interested in the bid and the company itself was against it. We have the documents to prove it.”
Deshpande also batted for Pawar saying it was his “personal decision”.
“The tender was bought in the name of City Corporation. And If the company had won the bid it would have been executed by a different consortium,” he said.
But the denials and clarifications didn’t silence the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) even as the coalition partner Congress played down the controversy saying Pawar was a “valuable ally”.
“He should resign forthwith. If (he does) not, we demand stern action against Pawar from Prime Minister (Manmohan Singh),” BJP chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
“When the IPL controversy came to the fore, Sharad Pawar and his family members repeatedly said they had nothing to do with it. After this report it is very clear that Pawar has not only mismanaged the food economy of the country but also misled the country,” Prasad told reporters.
Demanding a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the matter, Prasad said Deshpande’s plan to execute his bid by a different consortium comprising a Mumbai construction company, the Maharashtra Cricket Association and others was in violation of the company law.
Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said all questions on the issue should be addressed to the NCP leader.
“Sharad Pawar is a valuable ally. This is a question which you have to put to him in all fairness,” he said.
Pawar was also defended by IPL’s suspended chief Lalit Modi who sought to clarify that the minister and his family had no involvement in the failed bid.
“Mr. Pawar and his family had nothing to do with the bid made by Aniruddha Deshpande. He or his family have no stake,” Modi tweeted.

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