A day after Shashi Tharoor lost his ministerial berth to the unfolding IPL saga of alleged corruption, the controversial cricket tournament generated much heat in Parliament with opposition benches demanding a probe into the sources of IPL funds.
The positions of political parties were, however, varied: from demands a probe into IPL funds to attacks on cricket itself as a “foreign game, to seeking a ban on the IPL or its nationalisation.
The principal Opposition BJP --- which had been attacked on the ground that it had gone “soft” on Lalit Modi even while training its guns on Tharoor --- demanded a probe into the sources of IPL funds, even as it stopped short of demanding a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) probe.
“Opposition parties and the BJP demanded in the Lok Sabha that all transactions of the IPL should be looked into. There are reports that foreign funds and black money from Swiss banks have also been put into it,” Deputy Leader in the Lok Sabha, Gopinath Munde, said. He demanded that the government apprise Parliament of the findings at the earliest.
Some other parties, however, were much harsher. Demanding a probe into the functioning of the IPL by a JPC and a ban on Twenty20 matches, Gurudas Dasgupta of the Communist Party of India (CPI) alleged that the tournament was flush with dubious funds sourced from Mauritius and the Swiss Bank. “It is a caricature of cricket that is on display, when players are being bought like vegetables and there is a situation of open betting,” Dasgupta said.
“Politicians are playing cricket from their bedrooms and corporates are doing so from their board room,” he added.
Demanding that Twenty20 cricket be nationalised, RJD chief Lalu Prasad said that the IPL had turned into a den of corruption and sleaze. “Nationalise it... The Central Government should immediately take over the BCCI and IPL. There is a lot of betting happening there,” Prasad said.
SP chief, Mulayam Singh Yadav, demanded a ban on Twenty20 cricket. “Cricket is a foreign game, which is being promoted at the expense of national games,” he said.
Leader of the Opposition, Sushma Swaraj, made the nuanced position of the BJP clear: “We are not against cricket or the IPL per se, but we insist that the source of funds be made known, as there are allegations that foreign money from tax havens is flowing in.”
Janata Dal (United) leader Sharad Yadav was harsh: “Betting in IPL matches is the real issue. It is a den of loot,” he said. “A thorough probe into the IPL affairs must be conducted.”