Shashi Tharoor-Sunanda Pushkar-Lalit Modi Controversy Regarding Ownership of IPL Kochi Team: The Inside Story

All Details About Why the Controversy Started, Why are they Fighting , Lalit Modi-Shashi Tharoor At War.
Your guide to a story with super-hot ingredients: politics, love, drugs, money, crime, and a bit of cricket

How did Union Minister Shashi Tharoor get entangled in the ongoing IPL Controversy?
By working behind-the-scenes to cobble up a consortium that bid and bagged the franchise for the Kochi team.

What is the controversy all about?
The people who constitute the consortium. IPL commissioner Lalit Modi wants to know who they are, but claims even the people who presented the bid documents did not have the answer. He persisted and got the answer, which he then posted on Twitter.

What happended after That?
One of the stakeholders, Rendezvous Sports World, has given 19 per cent of its 25 per cent equity, to Sunanda Pushkar.

So what?
She is close to Tharoor. She has been spotted with the minister at various events, including some official functions.

Who is Sunanda Pushkar, Whats Her Background?
She is a 48-year-old Kashmiri working as director (sales) with a UAE-based realty company and an entrepreneur running a spa in Dubai. Her family had migrated from J&K after their house was set on fire by militants in 1990. She was married to a Kashmiri, Sanjay Raina, who worked in a hotel in New Delhi. They were divorced. She went to Dubai where she married Sujit Menon, who dealt in fire-fighting equipment and was an event manager. Menon died in a road mishap in Delhi. Pushkar has a 15-year-old son.

So what if Sunanda is Tharoor's friend and also has a stake in Kochi?
Being a minister, Tharoor should not have taken interest in IPL, which is a private enterprise. But, even if he did, his proximity to Pushkar raises questions about propriety. Sunanda said on Wednesday that she is no proxy for Tharoor, but still, the deal is worth a mind-boggling Rs 1,500 crore, and she will have to face uncomfortable questions.

What are the questions that face Sunanda Pushkar regarding te IPL Controversy?

• Why is Pushkar getting a stake without investing a paisa?

• Would anyone pay Rs 70 crore (as Rendezvous claims) for Pushkar's marketing and brand-building skills? Apparently, she was once tapped by Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), but this has not been refuted by SRK's team.

• Is the money meant to compensate Tharoor for his efforts to put together the consortium?

• Does the money represent the minister's investment in the franchise? Or, was it a means for him to invest ill-gotten wealth?

• Was it right for a Central minister to be so closely associated with an IPL team?

• Shouldn't Tharoor have revealed to IPL his friendship with Pushkar at the time of helping put together the bid?

What does Tharoor say about the Controversy?
Role didn’t extend beyond mentoring bid.

What is Lalit Modi saying?
If Tharoor was only mentoring, why did he call and request Modi not to delve into the ownership of the Kochi franchise?

What’s Tharoor’s reply to Lamit Modi?
First, he did not call Modi. Second, he asked Modi not to drag his personal life into IPL. Then, his aide raked up stories on Modi's indiscretions during his stint in the US for studies. Modi had been arrested for drug possession, kidnap and assault. He opted for a ‘plea bargain’ wherein he was convicted for kidnap and assault and in exchange was not tried on the drug charge. He received a suspended sentence, which meant that he would not have to be put in prison unless he was arrested again in a criminal case.

What now?

The BJP is rubbing its hands in glee, having got another opportunity to target Tharoor. Congressmen are putting up a brave front, but are actually feeling jittery about how far the players in this drama will go to dig up dirt about each other, and on others who might have a stake in IPL through their proxies.

Any effect on IPL?
Unlikely for now, but cannot rule out more skeletons coming out of the cupboard in the coming months.

Speaking of skeletons, what is the underworld connection here?
Tharoor got an SMS telling him to either apologise to Modi or... Speculation is that the SMS originated from the underworld, specifically Dawood Ibrahim's aide Chhota Shakeel. Delhi police are investigating.

Lalit Modi says he has no hidden agenda in the tussle with Tharoor

Indian Premier League (IPL) chairman Lalit Modi maintained that there was a question mark over the ownership of the Kochi franchise as the owners themselves did not know some of the people involved with it. Modi, who had been pulled up over the issue by the Indian cricket board chief, however, played it down saying that this is a small issue and it would be sorted out after the IPL is over.

“With regards to the eight franchisees, we know about all the stake holders, but there are still some doubts over the ownership of the Kochi franchise. Even the people who signed the tender documents don’t know who they are,” Modi told reporters here.

Modi said he had nothing to hide and “this is a small issue, but an issue nevertheless”. “Will deal with Kochi once the IPL is over. I will also explain my side to the IPL governing council and we have no hidden agenda, no hidden stakes,” he said.

‘IT’S MY JOB’ Says Lalit Modi

Undeterred by Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor launching an attack on him on Kochi franchise issue, Lalit Modi asserted that it was his job to seek details of every shareholder and authenticate. “It is my job as Chairman of IPL to seek details and authenticate the shareholding of every franchise... how would otherwise I know where the money is coming from,” Modi said on Tharoor’s accusation of he causing impropriety by divulging the details of the shareholding of Kochi franchise.

Wondering as to why any third party (Tharoor), which is not a shareholder in any of the franchise, should be exercised about IPL seeking details, Modi said that he did not know about who Sunanda Pushkar was till he read about her in the newspapers. Sunanda Pushkar, who was given 19 per cent of the 25 per cent equity held by Rendezvous Sports World in Kochi franchise, was reported to be very close to Tharoor, who is also reported to be planning to marry her.

Modi, who has been credited for success of IPL which he had earlier said would help make BCCI the richest sports entity in the world in next 3-4 years, also wondered as to why Sunanda should be given free equity and quipped “whether she is bringing any value?”

Questioning Tharoor making a phone call to IPL for not disclosing the identity of shareholders of Rendezvous, he said “his call has been minuted and the entire conversation has been minuted by IPL”.

He said that his main concern was always to find out the sources of money and identity of shareholders to keep IPL, which has dislodged TV programmes , to keep the working transparent and entity above board, particularly on account of the huge money involved.

‘MODI ASKED A LOT OF PERSONAL QUESTIONS’

Strongly reacting to Lalit Modi’s statement that there was a question mark over the owners of Kochi franchise, its CEO Shailandra Gaikwad hit back at the IPL Commissioner, saying the new team was deliberately made to go through a “tough time” for outbidding some big business houses. Gaikwad said that the franchise was being targeted because it outbid some big business houses whom Modi wanted to rope in for the subsequent editions of IPL.

“We are being put to an unnecessary process and the reasons are obvious. If we did not have all the papers in place how could we win the bid. It is unfair now to make us go through these problems,” an angry Gaikwad said.

He alleged that Modi had asked a lot of personal details during the meeting with owners in Bangalore.“We were asked a lot of personal questions about some of our owners which we could not readily answer. He asked questions about when did you meet Sunanda (Pushkar) and other such irrelevant things”.

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