The Congress has distanced itself from the email exchange between former minister Shashi Tharoor and Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel, claiming it has nothing to do with the ‘mud-slinging’ between the ousted minister and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) on the IPL issue.
“As a political party, the Congress has nothing to do with the business of cricket and the IPL. We also don't comment on our allies,” Congress chief spokesman Janardan Dwivedi said. According to Congress sources, whatever is coming out in the media is part of the tussle within the cricket establishment, consequent to IPL commissioner Lalit Modi's twitter attack on Tharoor and the events that followed.
The sources insisted the Congress disengaged from the face-off the day Thaoor put in his papers and there is no room for speculation.
The party said it has nothing to gain from disturbing its alliance with the NCP. “Why should we take on our allies? We have been running successful coalition governments in Maharashtra for 11 years and at the Centre for six years aong with the NCP,” a senior leader said. The alliance partners are also in power in Goa and Meghalaya.
Asked if NCP boss Sharad Pawar or Patel should resign in the wake of reports suggesting their involvement in the IPL mess, another senior leader said: “We cannot dictate terms to them. It is a judgement call to be taken by the NCP.”
That the NCP’s support is crucial for the survival of the Congress-led UPA government is weighing heavily on the minds of Congress managers. NCP has nine MPs in the Lok Sabha where the ruling combine’s strength has been reduced to 271 after the JD(S) shifted to the opposition ranks. This figure also includes two nominated members and excludes the Speaker and Jharkhand MP, Madhu Koda, who is currently in jail. “Strained ties between our two parties will add to the UPA's woes,” said another leader.