The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to sack Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor for allegedly misusing his official position to secure a stake in a multi-crore rupee Indian Premier League (IPL) deal for his friend Sunanda Pushkar.
BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad also demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe in the Rs 1,530 crore IPL deal in which Tharoor has said he played the role of a mentor and helped the consortium that won the franchise of the Kochi team.
Pushkar, who is said to be close to Tharoor, has a shareholding worth Rs 70 crore in the IPL Kochi and the BJP leader alleged that she has been given the share "without paying because she is close to Tharoor".
"The Kochi franchise has made it known to the IPL that a sweat equity (free equity stake) has been issued in favour of Sunanda Pushkar," Prasad told reporters at a media conference.
He said Pushkar is not a known businesswoman and has admittedly rendered no service to cricket or to the Kochi franchise.
"It is obvious that the quid pro quo for this equity is the service rendered by Shashi Tharoor to the Kochi franchise. Tharoor has charged a consideration for his service to the franchise and the said consideration is valuable shareholding parked in the name of someone who has a close personal proximity to him," the BJP leader said.
Such conduct, Prasad said, "is improper and a criminal offence. Tharoor has misused his position as a minister".
"The BJP is of the clear opinion that Tharoor cannot continue in the government even for a moment after this gross impropriety. The prime minister should immediately sack him and order a criminal inquiry into the deal," he demanded.
The controversy was triggered after IPL commissioner Lalit Modi stated on a social networking site that the minister had requested him not to reveal the name of the stakeholders of the consortium. Tharoor has, however, denied this and accused Modi of making "unethical efforts" to thwart Kochi IPL.