Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor is most likely to be asked to hand in his resignation in the light of the controversy surrounding his role in the Kochi franchise of the Indian Premier League.
Media reports, quoting top sources within the Congress party, said on Sunday that Tharoor's exit is almost certain. In the light of his controversial role in the saga the Congress party has come to the view that it can't be seen as backing Tharoor. Sources also said that it has become tough to keep Tharoor in ministry. This decision came after a meeting of the core group of the Congress party on Sunday.
A formal announcement on this issue will be taken on Monday.
On Sunday evening, Congress President Sonia Gandhi met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to decide on the minister's continuance in the government.
Other members of the Congress Core Group including senior party leaders Pranab Mukherjee, A K Antony, P Chidambaram and Political Secretary to Congress president Ahmad Patel joined them later.
This was the first meeting between Gandhi and Singh after the controversy erupted over the Kochi IPL ownership issue involving Tharoor.
Even as the parleys began, Tharoor's friend Sunanda Pushkar, who has sweat equity valued at Rs 70 crore in the IPL Kochi franchise, resigned from Rendezvous Sports World. The company is one of the stakeholders in IPL Kochi.
Earlier in the day, Tharoor met the Prime Minister for about 45 minutes during which is he is understood to have explained his position to Singh in the wake of allegations that he helped his friend Sunanda to acquire a sweat equity in the Kochi IPL franchise.
In Dubai, 48-year-old Sunanda made a last ditch attempt to save Tharoor by voluntarily offering to surrender her free equity she got from the consortium which bought the IPL Kochi franchise for Rs 1, 533 crore.
"Given the deeply unpleasant publicity surrounding my involvement, however, I can no longer imagine being able to find the enthusiasm required to associate myself with any IPL activity in the foreseeable future," she said in a statement to Rendezvous Sports, one of the stakeholders in IPL Kochi.
Her lawyer Ashish Mehta said she had taken the decision on Saturday.
Both the BJP and the Left parties made it clear that Sunanda abandoning her stake will not let Tharoor off the hook as far as they are concerned.
Stepping up the pressure for Tharoor's resignation, BJP said,"the stain of corruption is not washed by the return of bribe money.
"It is a case of stinking corruption," BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters, adding Sunanda giving back her equity was immaterial.
"It's an admission of guilt" and proves that Sunanda is Tharoor's "front" and does his bidding, he said.
Senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi told reporters in Kolkata, "the Centre should investigate the entire IPL issue but before that Tharoor should resign. If he does not resign, he should be sacked."
CPI leader D Raja also said Sunanda surrendering her equity is an admission of guilt and cannot save Tharoor.
It has become untenable for him to continue as a minister, he said.
"The Prime Minister should not take much time to decide on this and the Congress should not drag this issue any further...Tharoor has to step down," he said.
(With PTI inputs)