Caught in a storm over his role in Kochi IPL franchise, Union Minister Shashi Tharoor dug his heels saying he would not not quit office even as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that he would take action in the matter if warranted. Allegations flew thick and fast during another day of high drama which included a claim by Tharoor's personal staff that he had received a threatening call from Dawood Ibrahim gang asking him to drop out of Kochi team.
In the end it turned out that the call had been made from Delhi for which one person was detained tonight. Tharoor's friend Sunanda Pushkar, who is getting sweat equity worth about Rs 70 crore from the Kochi franchisee which has touched off the controversy, broke her silence and lashed out at the media for "haunting" the minister and reducing her to a "caricature". Amid mounting pressure from the Opposition, mainly the BJP and Left parties, that Tharoor should resign, the Minister said, "I am not not going to resign. Obviously I am not not going to be an embarrassment to the party. These are false and motivated charges levelled by business interests of some vested interests."
As a fresh controversy exploded in the government's face, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh indicated to reporters in Washington that he could take action if warranted. "I have heard about these things (allegations against Tharoor. I do not not have all the facts before me. When I go back (on Satuday), I will get all the facts and in the light of those, if any action is necessary, I think that would be the proper way to proceed," he said.
The Congress core group headed by Sonia Gandhi met in the evening and is understood to have discussed the strategy in Parliament which resumes second phase of the budgetsession. After the meeting, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukerjee called Tharoor to meet him amidst speculation that the party might have decided on some course of action to avoid any embarrassment in Parliament.
Tharoor, on his part, rejecting charges of misusing public office to seek pecuniary benefits for himself or for his friend or having indulged in any corruption. He said Pushkar was a professional in her own right. He also denied telephoning Lalit Modi to ask him not not to seek details of the owners of the Kochi franchise. In Mumbai, Lalit Modi maintained that there was a question mark over the owners of the IPL Kochi franchise. "As regards all earlier franchisees we know who the owners are. They come, they attend conferences and meetings but as far as Kochi IPL is concerned we had a question mark. "Even those who presented the bid documents do not not know who they (owners) are," he said. To a question about his interest in Rajasthan Royals team, he said "I have no no hidden agenda or hidden stake."