Tharoor's fate in PM's hand | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Tharoor's fate in PM's hand

Shashi Tharoor's continuance as minister of state for external affairs remained uncertain on Saturday even as the Opposition kept him in its line of fire over his involvement in the IPL issue and turned the heat on the Congress-led government. Aurangzeb Naqshbandi reports.

delhi Updated: Apr 18, 2010 01:22 IST

Shashi Tharoor's continuance as minister of state for external affairs remained uncertain on Saturday even as the Opposition kept him in its line of fire over his involvement in the IPL issue and turned the heat on the Congress-led government.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh returned from his two-nation tour amid growing speculation that Tharoor's days were numbered.

On board Air India One, Singh was cautious: "In politics, ups and downs keep happening."

Singh is expected to confer with Congress president Sonia Gandhi before deciding on Tharoor's fate.

The Congress, which had distanced itself from the Tharoor-IPL controversy by maintaining that the minister would have to fend for himself, appeared unconvinced with his "personal" statement in Parliament on Friday.

Party leaders privately said Tharoor would have to take a call sooner rather than later on stepping down on his own - an indication that unless there is a miracle, it might be difficult for Tharoor, who has a penchant for courting controversies, to survive this time.

The party believes Tharoor "wasted an opportunity" given to him to "explain his role in detail" in the Lok Sabha. It wanted him to immediately "clear the air" so that the party and the Prime Minister do not come under Opposition attack in Parliament.

Congress managers said Tharoor had failed to "effectively convince" not only the party leadership but also the nation that the sweat equity worth Rs 70 crore given to his friend Sunanda Pushkar was "bonafide and legitimate compensation" for her work in getting the consortium led by Rendezvous Sports World the IPL Kochi franchise.

Some in the Congress believe the party could have been spared "avoidable embarrassment" if Tharoor had resigned, "or at least made a public offer to do so".

Pressing on its advantage, the Opposition insisted on Tharoor's resignation, a statement from the Prime Minister and a structured debate on the IPL issue.

Although UPA allies like the National Conference's Farooq Abdullah had also indicated that Tharoor should have stepped down, the minister got unexpected support from another ally - the NCP - on Saturday.

"There is no need for him to resign," NCP general-secretary D P Tripathi told a TV channel.