Union Agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, also head of the Nationalist Congress Party, was strongly defended on allegations regarding IPL controversy by his daughter, NCP member of Parliament Supriya Sule.
Sule, who is being projected as Pawar's heir apparent, has clarified that neither Pawar nor any member of the Pawar family had any investments in IPL. She preferred sugarcane-rich Kolhapur in Maharashtra to issue the clarification.
Sule chose to defend her father on Sunday when Shashi Tharoor resigned as the Minister of State for External Affairs. She described how Pawar strove to generate revenue for the country from the cricket as a fan of the sport. The timing of Sule's clarification is also crucial, especially when a section of Congress party is bent on tightening the noose around Pawar over the IPL controversy. Last Thursday, Pawar had come out in support of IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi, saying there was nothing wrong in making public the names of the stakeholders of the Kochi franchise.
Pawar has also hogged the limelight for his alleged Kochi team connection. He has, however, clarified that he only advised the Kochi investors not to shift to Ahmedabad.
Sule told Business Standard, "Neither my father nor any member of the Pawar family has invested in IPL. My father is being criticised with a prejudiced mind." Sule was elected for the first time from Baramati parliamentary constituency in the May 2009 elections.
She further argued that IPL is not a means only to collect money, but has also provided job opportunity to several thousand youths in the country. Several small and medium enterprises in the vicinity of cricket match venues have benefited.
A senior All India Congress Committee member, who did not want to be quoted, has questioned how Pawar could give a clean chit to Modi when the Income Tax department plans to scrutinise all IPL franchise allotments by Modi. Besides, the department has put Modi's businesses under investigation and has expressed intention to study all financial transactions by Board of Control for Cricket in India over three years.