Beleaguered Minister for State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor met Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Thursday amidst indications that he may get a reprieve at least, for the time being.
Tharoor, battling allegations that he had misused authority to help his friend Sunanda Pushkar to get 'free' equity of the value of Rs 70 crore in IPL Kochi franchise, had a "brief" meeting with Gandhi.
There was no official word on the meeting but the minister is understood to have explained his side of the version of the whole controversy in his first meeting with the party chief since the row broke out.
Party sources said that Tharoor may get a respite in the matter, at least for the time being, in the backdrop of accusations that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi had got together to take the Kochi bid away to Ahemdabad.
"How can we take any action at a time when the BJP will get the advantage and put us in a tight spot?," remarked a party leader on condition of anonymity.
The strategy of Congress about Tharoor appeared to be to give the minister the benefit of doubt on the principle of 'innocent till found guilty'.
"Let all facts come out, then the party will react," said Party spokesperson Shakeel Ahmed to a volley of questions at the AICC briefing, reflecting the line of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is currently abroad.
Ahmed also dismissed suggestions that Tharoor has always been in news for all the wrong reasons.
"Please do not say he is always making news for all wrong reasons. He was elected to Lok Sabha and that did not make news for wrong reasons. He also contested for UN Secretary General's post without making any news for wrong reasons," he said.
Indian Premier League's Kochi franchise has on Thursday alleged that Lalit Modi is targeting the new team under pressure from the Gujarat Chief Minister.
The Congress spokesperson, however, refused to comment on the allegations regarding 'free equity' to Sunanda, saying the party would not like to say anything on these issues till full facts do not arrive.
Meanwhile, SP today joined the chorus of the demand for Tharoor's sacking from government, saying that he has been "exposed" in the IPL Kochi bid controversy.
CPI (M) leader Brinda Karat said Tharoor should step down immediately and the government should investigate the whole issue.
BJP and Left parties have been demanding his sacking in wake of the controversy.