NCP, an important ally of Congress, was today at the centre of the IPL storm over the alleged role of Union Minister Praful Patel, its leaders and their family members including that of Sharad Pawar's daughter Supriya Sule in the raging controversy surrounding the cricket league.
The party and Sule, who represents Baramati in Lok Sabha, dismissed reports of any wrong doing on the part of the leaders or their family members but Patel himself declined to comment to reports on the controversy surrounding him. It ruled out resignation of Pawar and Patel from the government.
Sule, however, admitted that her husband Sadanand held 10 per cent stake in Multi Screen Media (formerly Sony Entertainment) as a "proxy" for her father-in-law, B R Sule, who was associated with Sony for a number of years. MSM allegedly paid a facilitation fee of USD 80 million to sports management company WSG for securing IPL television rights.
With NCP, which has nine MPs in Lok Sabha and is part of the coalition government with Congress in Maharashtra, getting sucked into the raging row, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee is believed to have apprised Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of the goings on in the IPL, especially on the allegations regarding its sources of funding.
He is also understood to have briefed Congress President Sonia Gandhi.
Mukherjee, however, said he cannot comment on the tax probe into various IPL franchisees and that "everyone will get to know once the investigation is complete."
But opposition leaders questioned the role of Patel, who reportedly forwarded an e-mail from his daughter Poorna, IPL's Hospitality Manager, to former Shashi Tharoor with details of projections of new franchisee valuations two days before the Kochi IPL team was bid.
"I have nothing to say," remarked Patel tersely to reporters in Parliament on a day when a leading daily reported that his personal secretary forwarded a message of IPL CEO, routed through his daughter, to Tharoor, who was promoting the Kochi team.
He had told the daily yesterday that Tharoor sought his help as a friend and he had spoken to IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi told him that Tharoor wanted some information.
Poorna admitted today that she had forwarded information to her father as was asked by her boss, the IPL CEO.