Indian Premier League (IPL) officials will meet next week to discuss the corruption allegations over the addition of a new team to the lucrative Twenty20 tournament that brought the resignation of the country’s junior foreign minister.
International Cricket Council vice president Sharad Pawar announced a meeting of the IPL governing council for Monday, one week after Indian Junior Foreign Minister Shashi Tharoor quit following claims that he was secretly given a quarter share of the new Kochi franchise.
Tharoor helped put together a group of investors who last month bid more than US$330 million to bring a team to Kochi, a port city in southern Kerala state, part of which he represents in parliament.
The bid was successful in the auction and the team was admitted to the competition, but IPL chairman Lalit Modi questioned why a 25 percent share was given to a group that included a friend of Tharoor’s. It is alleged the shares were a hidden gift for Tharoor.
Modi said he would deal with the allegations at the next week’s meeting.
“There is no point in discussing it — I will present all the facts to the delegates. Nothing to worry about. We will carry on,” Modi said on Tuesday.
After Tharoor’s resignation, former Railways Minister Laloo Yadav and several other lawmakers demanded Modi also step down.
On Monday, Indian Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said income tax authorities were investigating the sources and channels of funding of the team owners.
“No guilty [party] or wrongdoer will be spared,” Mukherjee told lawmakers, some of whom called for a ban on the IPL.
Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president Shashank Manohar declined to speculate on Modi’s fate, saying “this will be discussed in the governing council meeting and a decision will be taken unanimously.”
“My personal decision or personal views carry no weight,” Manohar added.
Pawar met with Manohar and Mukherjee on Tuesday — as well as Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaram — and said the issue would be dealt with by IPL officials.
“The IPL governing council will meet to resolve the entire issue. The total efforts will be to protect the interest of Indian cricket, the cricket-loving public and the players,” Pawar said.
The IPL is an immensely successful, franchise-based Twenty20 event that has attracted players from across the world. Eight city-based franchises were auctioned by the IPL in 2008. Last month, the IPL announced two new teams will join the league in this year.
Tharoor’s friend, businesswoman Sunanda Pushkar, has announced that she would give up her stake in the Kochi franchise.