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HindustanTimes Wed,01 Oct 2014

Pawar, Patel in line of fire, BJP demands their resignation

PTI  New Delhi, April 23, 2010
First Published: 18:28 IST(23/4/2010) | Last Updated: 20:41 IST(23/4/2010)

Union Ministers Sharad Pawar and Praful Patel came in the line of fire of the Opposition which demanded their resignation in the wake of IPL controversy and constitution of a  Joint Parliamentary Committee to probe it, a plea government has promised to consider.

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Parliament business was disrupted with the Opposition leaders demanding that only a JPC probe will have credibility
as there were allegations of involvement of two ministers in the controversy.

The Rajya Sabha was adjourned after lunch without transacting any business with BJP members insisting on a JPC
probe.

Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj raked up the issue saying it was getting "more serious by the
day" and demanded a JPC probe to save the dignity of the House and to throw light on the issue.

CPI leader in Lok Sabha described it as the "most serious fraud unparallelled in the history of independent India".  He held that "unpardonable violation of law has taken place for the last two years under the nose of the government.

The two ministers, who belong to NCP, an important ally of the Congress at the Centre and in Maharashtra, were
targeted in both the Houses but their names were not not taken.

The Oposition members described the alleged financial wrongdoings in the IPL as a huge scam and wanted to know "how many more Tharoors were there".

Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor was forced to resign on Sunday following allegations of misuse
of power by him to get sweat equity of the value of Rs. 70 crore for his friend Sunanda Pushkar.

The Oppositon leaders also targeted Patel in the wake of reports that his daughter Poorna allegedly pulled out an
aircraft from a scheduled flight for operating a chartered flight for an IPL team.  Air India, however, denied the
charge.

Former Union Minister and senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha told reporters outside Parliament that "propriety demands that in order to ensure an impartial probe, the ministers should not not  be in their position.

"It will be in order that those in the circle of suspicion quit so that the an impartial probe could be carried out."

With ally in trouble and the government having important financial business ahead in Parliament, the Congress top brass is expected to meet in the Core Group to discuss the demand for constituting a JPC.

Alleging that two Ministers were under cloud for "gross misuse of power", opposition members stalled proceedings. They chanted slogans "we want JPC" and "daal me kala zaroor hai, aur kitne Tharoor hain" (there is something fishy, how many more Tharoors exist).

Responding to the demands, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said in Lok Sabha "it (a decision on JPC) is to be taken after due diligence and consideration. It cannot be like instant coffee or instant consideration".

Observing that the government will have to ponder over it, Mukherjee, who is also the Leader of the Lok Sabha, said, "I will communicate your sentiments to the Prime Minister. As and when the government takes a decision, we will come to Parliament. Let us wait for some time."

Swaraj said allegations were flying thick and fast that two senior ministers in the government had a role to play in the controversy.

Though she did not name any minister, her attack came against the backdrop of reports that Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel had given details of projections of new franchisee valuations to Shashi Tharoor two days before the Kochi IPL team was bid.

There are also allegations that a close relative of a senior Minister, belonging to a UPA partner, had benefited.

Swaraj said now reports had come out that the ministers had indulged in "gross misuse of power" including diversion of a civilian aircraft for the IPL players.

"The whole issue (of IPL) should be probed. The Leader of the House had said they are ready to probe. We feel investigating agencies will not be able to bring the truth to the fore. From day one of the episode, we have demanded that JPC be constituted to look into this," she said.

Supporting her, JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav said there were "all sorts of allegations" against IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi "of looting the whole system from here to Rajasthan."

Pressing for accountability for the cricket T20 league too, he said IPL should be answerable to Parliament and the whole country.

Yadav said Sports Minister MS Gill was talking as if he was in the Opposition, but nobody took note of it.

Alleging that "illegal money" from both Mauritius and Swiss banks had been invested in IPL, the JD(U) member said it was necessary for constituting the JPC to probe all aspects of the tournament.


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