Sharad Pawar should step down, says BJP

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Jun 5 2010, 06:41am hrs
The IPL controversy continued to haunt Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar and his daughter and NCP MP Supriya Sule with fresh revelations about their shareholding in a Pune-based construction company that made an unsuccessful bid for an IPL team. The main Opposition party, BJP, on Friday demanded his resignation. It asked the Prime Minister to take stern action against Pawar if he doesnt step down on his own.

The BJP said Pawar misled the nation about his involvement in the IPL and misrepresented facts by claiming earlier that his family was not involved in the bidding. This is rank misrepresentation of facts by a senior minister of the Government of India. He must resign forthwith. If Sharad Pawar does not resign, we demand that the Prime Minister take stern action against him, said BJP chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad. The Congress, on the other hand, sought to distance itself from the NCP leaders. Sharad Pawar is a valuable ally. These questions you have to put to him, in all fairness, AICC spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi told reporters in response to questions about the BJPs demand for Pawars resignation. Do you expect the Opposition to demand anything else he said.

Pawar denied the allegations, re-iterating that his family was not involved in the bidding and the Citi Corporations managing director Aniruddha Deshpande had done so in his individual capacity. I have stated earlier also that neither I nor any of my family members were involved in any IPL team or the bidding process and I reiterate that statement, said the minister. Asked why he did not disclose these details when the controversy had broken out, Pawar said, There was no necessity felt for doing so.

The BJP refused to buy Pawars argument. The tender document was purchased and bidding was done in the name of Citi Corporation. To say that Deshpande did it in his individual capacity doesnt hold water. According to company law, either you are a corporation or an individual shareholder. All these are lame excuses and bogus arguments, Prasad said. He also reiterated the BJPs demand for a JPC probe into the entire IPL controversy.

Pawar is a senior minister. He is expected to maintain transparency in his public declarations, the BJP leader said referring to the Union ministers earlier assertion that his family was not involved in any IPL venture. His conscience is not that clear. It is not love for cricket. The overpowering interest is the commerce of cricket, Prasad added.

The BJP leader said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh often extols the virtues of good governance, fairness and probity. In the case of Pawar as also the telecom minister A Raja, who is facing allegations of corruption, he said the prime minister should take action on the basis of the benchmarks set by him.

Clarifying his position, the NCP chief said the companys managing director had been given permission by its board of directors to get involved in the bid in his individual capacity. In City Corporations board meeting on the 16th and 17th of that month, the board took a unanimous decision not (to get) involved. The managing director was eager to get associated with the bidding process, so he was allowed in his individual capacity, he said.

Deshpande, Maharashtra Cricket Association and Akruti of Mumbai collectively tried to get this bid but they did not succeed. Neither Deshpande nor his colleagues succeeded in getting IPL teams. The effort was made, that is correct. But they didnt get the bid, said the Union minister.