Tharoor resigns, PM accepts
Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor on Sunday resigned following days of accusations and counter-accusations over his role in the purchase of an Indian Premier League franchise. HT reports. See special | Controversies past and present | ‘My credentials were questioned because I am woman’delhi Updated: Apr 19, 2010 09:27 IST
Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor on Sunday resigned following days of accusations and counter-accusations over his role in the purchase of an Indian Premier League franchise.
<b1>Tharoor resigned after his second meeting of the day with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. His continuation in office was embarrassing the party and stalling Parliament.
"His resignation has been accepted,” said a government source, adding quickly, “but it should not be seen as endorsing the charges against him as an inquiry is under way.”
Tharoor, who’d earlier got into trouble over his tweets and staying in a five-star hotel, got embroiled in a controversy around the ownership of Kochi, one of two teams auctioned recently.
He had denied any role other than "mentoring" the successful bidders — a consortium including girlfriend Sunanda Pushkar, a Dubai-based Canadian citizen of Kashmiri descent.
The franchise became an issue after IPL boss Lalit Modi outed its ownership on Twitter on April 11.
Pushkar, it turned out, held an enviable 5 per cent “undilutable” sweat equity. Tharoor insisted it was Pushkar’s money and he had nothing to do with it, and that she was being paid for a range of services she would provide over the next 10 years. The Kochi franchise confirmed it.
No one else was buying it. Both the BJP and the Left alleged Pushkar was fronting for Tharoor. They stalled Parliament on Friday demanding his ouster. The govt and the Congress then said the Prime Minister will take a call on his return from the US and Brazil. Singh returned last night and set the process in motion early Sunday, summoning Tharoor.
Congress sources said the decision to fire Tharoor had been taken, in fact, by Congress president Sonia Gandhi earlier after her meeting with the minister. “She wasn’t convinced by his story,” said a source.
Tharoor was then headed for the same fate as that met then external affairs minister Natwar Singh — in UPA season One — over his name figuring in the Volker committee’s report on UN’s food-for-oil programme for Iraq.
After meeting Tharoor in the morning, Singh met Gandhi in the evening for a one-on-one at his residence, just before the rest of the core group members joined them. At 7:30 pm, the two were joined by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, defence minister A K Antony, Home Minister P Chidambaram and Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel.
They all filed out quietly after the meeting, without making a statement. Within minutes Tharoor was back at Singh’s residence. Within 30 minutes of Tharoor driving home from Singh’s residence, report came of his resignation and that it had been accepted, with a special emphasis on the minister “volunteering” to resign. While his exit might be seen as a major political victory for the joint Opposition, it enabled the Congress to take a high moral ground and contain the damage caused to the party by controversy, said political analysts.