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Modi tried to scuttle Kochi team: Tharoor

Tharoor says Modi and others put pressure on the consortium to abandon the bid in favour of another city.

April 13, 2010, 11:36 AM IST
Modi tried to scuttle Kochi team: Tharoor

New Delhi: Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor, who was instrumental in getting Kochi an IPL franchisee in the March team auctions, on Tuesday issued an official statement to counter the allegations made by IPL commissioner Lalit Modi over the ownership of the team.

While Tharoor admitted that Kochi stakeholder Sunanda Pushkar was his close friend, he said "various attempts were made by Modi and others to pressure the consortium members to abandon their bid in favour of another city in a different state". Following is the full text of Tharoor's official statement:

1. A consortium led by Rendezvous was set up to bid for an IPL team. They approached me for help and guidance. I steered them towards Kerala. Rendezvous includes a number of people, including many I have never met, and Sunanda Pushkar, whom I know well.

2. My role in mentoring the consortium included several conversations with Mr Lalit Modi, who guided us through the process and presented himself as a trusted friend.

3. The consortium bid successfully in an open and transparent process. Their unexpected success upset the plans of a lot of powerful people, who had wanted the franchise to go elsewhere.

4. Various attempts were made by Mr Modi and others to pressure the consortium members to abandon their bid in favour of another city in a different state. Mr Modi raised assorted objections to the bid documents but finally had no choice but to approve them.

5. His extraordinary breach of all propriety in publicly raising issues relating to the composition of the consortium and myself personally is clearly an attempt to discredit the team and create reasons to disqualify it so that the franchise can be awarded elsewhere.

6. Contemptible efforts have been made to drag in matters of my personal life which I do not intend to dignify by commenting on them.

7. However, I deny Mr Lalit Modi’s allegation that I called him during his meeting with investors in the Kochi consortium in Bangalore on Saturday night in order to press him not to question the composition of the consortium.

I called Mr Modi to ask why he was further delaying the approval of the franchise when all the legal requirements had been fulfilled.. Mr Modi had held up approval by the IPL of the franchisee agreement earlier in the day, by insisting on the reversal of a change in the document that he himself had earlier suggested. This change was made, the consortium members flew to Bangalore and met with Mr Modi after that night’s IPL game for what they had been told would be a routine exercise. Instead they were submitted to a barrage of questions which led some to suspect that Mr Modi was seeking a further excuse to delay approval. This was the reason for my intervention with Mr Modi. Had he conducted himself in good faith throughout, no call would have been necessary.

8. On the question of my interests in the franchise, I repeat that I am proud to have helped the consortium come to Kerala. I have neither invested nor received a rupee for my mentorship of the team. Whatever my personal relationships with any of the consortium members, I do not intend to benefit in any way financially from my association with the team now or at a later stage.

9. A Kerala IPL team is a dream of many young people in and from the state. It has the potential to bring great material and psychological benefits to Kerala’s economy and society. The unethical efforts that have been made by Mr Modi and others to thwart the Kerala franchise which had been won fair and square in a transparent bidding process are disgraceful. It has been clear for some time that the real motive is to assign this IPL team elsewhere than Kerala. All of us in Kerala hope that the BCCI will not permit statements and activities which seek to discredit the Kerala team before it has even had a chance to prove its worth. The public attempts by Mr Modi to besmirch the consortium in fact bring the IPL itself into disrepute.

This statement is issued by me in a personal capacity to respond to the allegations made against me personally.

Dr Shashi Tharoor

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