The government will consider a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the functioning of the Indian Premier League (IPL), Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said on Friday after an opposition uproar over the alleged financial irregularities in the lucrative Twenty20 cricket tournament.
"I have noted everybody's suggestion and due consideration will be given. The government will have to ponder over all the demands. I will forward the sentiments to the prime minister (Manmohan Singh)," Mukherjee said amidst noisy scenes by opposition party MPs.
The IPL row led to two adjournments in the Lok Sabha as the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), joined by the Left and other non-National Democratic Alliance (NDA) parties, raised the issue to target the government that is finding itself in a precarious situation ahead of the key finance bill and vote on budget.
Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj insisted that a JPC be appointed to look into the allegations, including match-fixing, illegal betting, money laundering and improper award of franchises, overshadowing the IPL Season 3 that is just two days away from its final match April 25.
Swaraj alleged that the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government was delaying the probe to protect some political leaders involved in the row.
Janata Dal-U leader Sharad Yadav said the IPL was "a den of thieves".
"From Mauritius to Switzerland, all sorts of money has been parked here under your government's nose," Sharad Yadav told the leader of the house, Pranab Mukherjee.
Without naming anyone, the JD-U leader pointed out that names of two ministers have also figured in the controversy.
"Two ministers have been named," he said, referring to Agriculture Minister Sharad Yadav and Aviation Minister Praful Patel, who are top leaders of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) - a key ally in the UPA government.
Media reports on Thursday alleged that Patel had forwarded an e-mail to Shashi Tharoor containing projections of new franchisee valuations for the bidding of new IPL teams. Pawar's son-in-law Sadanand Sule is also alleged to own a stake in an IPL broadcaster.
Tharoor was last week forced to quit as minister of state for external affairs over his alleged links with the IPL Kochi franchise.
Communist Party of India (CPI) leader Gurudas Dasgupta said the "government should come clean" over the issue and show they "are not saving any political person".
Demanding a "serious probe" through a proper channel, Dasgupta said the "JPC has a long arm. It can utilize multiple agencies; all political parties in the house will be represented".
Replying to the short debate, Mukherjee said the decision for the JPC probe was to be taken after "due diligence and consideration".
"It cannot be like instant coffee or instant consideration… As and when the government takes a decision, we will come to parliament. Let us wait for some time," he said.
Not satisfied with his assurance, the opposition members kept shouting "We want JPC", forcing Speaker Meira Kumar to adjourn the house till noon.
When the members reassembled at noon, opposition MPs again created a ruckus raising the same demand.
Deputy Speaker Karia Munda, who was chairing the house, allowed the government to lay 14 business papers in the Lok Sabha within about 10 minutes amid the din. Munda then adjourned the house till 2 pm.
The row over the multi-billion-dollar IPL erupted after its commissioner Lalit Modi revealed that Tharoor had allegedly misused his office to benefit his close friend Sunanda Pushkar, who got Rs. 70 crore sweat equity in the IPL Kochi franchise.
The row is since refusing to die down bringing Modi also under the scanner. Income Tax and Enforcement Directorate officials have been carrying out searches at the offices of IPL franchises spread across the country.