The Indian cricket board seems to be a divided house on the Lalit Modi-Shashi Tharoor row with board vice-president Rajiv Shukla coming out in support of the minsiter of state for external affairs in New Delhi on Friday.
Shukla, a Congres MP, stood by his party colleague Tharoor and said there was "no reason to disbelieve him (Tharoor)".
Tharoor and Indian Premier League (IPL) commissioner Lalit Modi, who is also a BCCI vice-president, are embroiled in a raging controversy after Modi alleged that the minister wanted him to suppress details of Kochi's shareholding pattern, especially the stakes of his friend Sunanda Pushkar, who is a Dubai based businesswoman.
Tharoor has denied the allegations in the Lok Sabha, amidst vociferous protests from the opposition, and Shukla said the minister's explanations should be taken on face value.
"There is no reason to disbelieve Tharoor. He has presented a statement on the floor of the house and it should end there," Shukla, a Rajya Sabha member, said.
Asked about the late night raids by Income Tax officials at the IPL and Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) headquarters in Mumbai, Shukla said: "Wherever there are financial transactions, the Income Tax department is there to check. The IT department can come and check. They came to investigate and the BCCI and the IPL are cooperating with them. They are free to enquire."
Modi too described the searches at the IPL and BCCI offices as a regular survey by the IT department.
"They wanted to know how the franchise system works, the auction system works and how we came about with the teams. They wanted details on the bidding process and we gave them all the details. They were very happy with what they got. We are a public body, so we gave them tne documents they wanted," he said.
On the ongoing controversy, Modi alleged that Tharoor has a "hidden agenda" in the Kochi franchise.
"Will not allow Mr. Tharoor to shadow this up. Mr. Tharoor has different agenda and his agenda will be shut down, believe me. We are doing the best job we can and will continue doing so, irrespective of the hidden agendas of different people. We will not allow the hidden agendas of different people to derail our process," said Modi.
Asked why he was targetting Pushkar, he said: "No, I am not. It is just that Sunanda Pushkar is being linked and found out about. I am sure the other names will come out sooner of later. It is not about Sunanda Pushkar. We did not know who she was and we don't care who she is. All we are concerned about is that the shareholders themselves did not know who she was. And that is what worries me."
On allegations that he was targetting th Kochi owners under the influence of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, the IPL commissioner said these were only speculations.
"There was no pressure from anybody. In fact, they met Mr. Narendra Modi, who told them very clearly that you have won the franchise of Kochi, so keep it to Kochi. They came to me and asked me to move it. Later this morning, I hear that Shashi Tharoor has approached them and said that we would like their support to move the team to Abu Dhabi. I don't know which way they are going. The teams will be playing in India. We will not allow the teams to play anywhere outside India," he said.