Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation Praful Patel today rubbished demands for his resignation and said all stories linking him to the Indian Premier League were ‘concocted and blown out of proportion’.
Hi ire was focussed particularly on two reports; one, that he had a vested interest in sending a valuation document of the IPL to the fellow minister Shashi Tharoor. Two, that his daughter Poorna, who works as a hospitality manager for IPL, had used her influence to reschedule a commercial flight for chartered use by the IPL.
“My daughter did not make that call. The charter was hired by India Cements. Poorna was not even on that flight,” said Patel, incensed at what he called the entire media's efforts to pull stories out of thin air and twisting the truth beyond recognition.
“Even the mail that I sent to Shashi Tharoor was sent at his request. I had nothing to do with the details in the document. If I had been interested in a franchise you may well accuse me of deviousness. But when has helping a friend out at his own request ever amounted to a crime?”
Patel said, “I have done nothing wrong and am in no way involved in the IPL. But it is true that I am in the NCP and I am close to Sharad Pawar, who has been involved with cricket for a long time now. So it is but natural that they will use me to get through to cricketing circles faster than they would otherwise.”
Patel says he is not worried because the investigation into the IPL will place him in the clear, but sources close to him indicated that he is ‘contemplating some kind of legal action’ against what he referred to as the ‘defamatory and baseless allegations’ against him and his daughter.
Air India denies special favours
HTC adds: Air India on Friday denied yet another allegation that one of its passenger aircraft had made an unscheduled landing at Jaipur to pick up the Mumbai Indians on April 12.
This comes after a section of media reporting that Air India's Delhi-Aurangabad flight (IC-887) via Mumbai had to be diverted to Jaipur to accommodate the team.
“These allegations are baseless and motivated. We are the official airline partners of Mumbai Indians and as required we had to fly them from Jaipur to Mumbai,” an Air India spokesperson said.
“We had filed a proper flight plan well in advance, the passengers were informed about this and the aircraft was operated on a schedule flight,” the spokesperson added.
Rather than flying directly to Mumbai from Delhi the aircraft went via Jaipur to pick up the cricketers, stopped in Mumbai and then headed to Aurangabad.
The special flight plan was created because the Mumbai Indians played a day-night match on April 11, after which they were scheduled to face the Delhi Daredevils in Mumbai on April 13.
The airline had earlier dismissed allegations that Praful Patel’s daughter Poorna forced the management to pull out a Kerala schedule flight to convert it into a charter service to ferry IPL players to Chennai.