A major political row is brewing over Minister of State for External Affairs, Shashi Tharoor's alleged links with the owners of the Kochi IPL team as Parliament resumes sitting from April 15.
A day after controversy erupted over the ownership pattern of the Kochi team, in which Tharoor's friend, Sunanda Pushkar, got a free equity valued at Rs 70 crores, the BJP's chief spokesperson, Ravi Shankar Prasad, demanded his sacking for allegedly "misusing" authority for helping her secure it. Prasad wanted a CBI probe into the charges of corruption.
The Congress called the BJP's demand absurd but distanced itself from the controversy, saying Tharoor and the others involved in the process should explain.
Meanwhile, the External Affairs Minister, S.M. Krishna, met Congress president, Sonia Gandhi. Rajiv Shukla, a Congress MP, who is also the BCCI spokesperson, also called on her. Though no word was available as to what transpired, Congress's media department head, Janardhan Dwivedi, said, "The party has nothing to do with this. It is an individual matter."
On the allegations of impropriety, he said: "I am not going to pass any judgment. Let him explain his position and let others explain what are the norms and which agencies were involved."
Signalling the party would raise the issue in Parliament, Prasad said, "It is a clear case of blatant misuse by a Minister of his authority for securing the investment for his friend. The issue is a question that involves blatant abuse of authority public accountability and of the Minister."
Asking the PM to sack Tharoor, Prasad said the Minister's action was a copybook case of corruption under the Prevention of Corruption Act as he was a public servant.
"Tharoor's friend Sunanda has no relationship with Kerala or cricket and it is obvious that the quid pro quo for this equity is the service rendered by Tharoor to the Kochi franchisee," he said.
"If a Minister starts making some kind of a charge directly or indirectly for profit, patronage and protection, then it becomes a copy book case of corruption," Prasad said.