By Suresh M. Prabhu
The resignation of Union Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor over IPL Kochi controversy has not come as a surprise. He has been getting into some controversy or the other ever since he came a minister. On previous occasions, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh saved him. However, the Prime Minister could not save Tharoor this time.
Tharoor’s stay in a Delhi five-star hotel saying his official residence was not ready — when millions he represents do not have even a square meal a day — was the first. His tweet that he would travel by the “cattle class” showed his insensitivity towards those who fly economy class. Then came his remark that New Delhi would like to use Saudi Arabia as an “interlocutor” between India and Pakistan.
Now the final blow is the IPL controversy. His role in the Rendezvous Sports World winning the bid is improper, notwithstanding his claim that he only wanted to help Kerala get a cricket team.
This time, he has misused his position and power to lobby for a business consortium, one of the beneficiaries of which is his executive friend — Sunanda Pushkar. Even hours before Tharoor submitted his resignation, she said in a statement, that was read out in Dubai by her lawyer Ashish Mehta, that she was “deeply distressed at the vile and malicious reporting of recent days surrounding her role in Rendezvous, the successful bidders for the Kerala IPL team.’’
There is no doubt that Tharoor sought to use his power and influence in an improper manner. Though Tharoor’s resignation and the quick action of Sunanda in announcing the surrender of sweat equity have saved certain amount of embarrassment to the Congress Party, it has confirmed the existence of corrupt practices in the whole process as alleged by the BJP and other parties.
One is amazed at the volume of money that is involved in the IPL and the extraordinary interest that is being shown by film stars, industrialists and political bigwigs in promoting the event makes one wonder where the source of funds is. No one will believe that India is a poor country after seeing the pomp and extravagance on display at the IPL cricket matches.
The government should probe not only the charges against Tharoor but also against the sources of money being poured into the game, and ensure that each rupee is accounted for.
Modeled along the English Premier League, the IPL attracted instant attraction, fanfare and media limelight in a very short span of time. But the extravaganza it has created in terms of money power, political strength and image build-up should not be tolerated by cricket lovers any more.