Nationalist Congress Party chief and Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar and his MP-daughter, Supriya Sule, staunchly reiterated their earlier denials in the Indian Premier League (IPL) controversy, despite a media report on their links to a company which was involved in one of the controversial bids.
A report in The Times of India had unearthed the fact that Pawar and his family owned 16 per cent stake in City Corp, a Pune-based construction company, which had offered Rs 1,200 crore for an IPL team franchise. The bid was won by the Sahara group, which paid Rs 1,700 crore.
When the post-bid IPL controversy broke out, and allegations surfaced on Pawar and the NCP, the minister and his daughter had repeatedly reiterated that they had no connection with any of the bidders.
Today, Pawar and Sule reiterated this, that none in the family was directly or indirectly involved in bidding for an IPL team in the March auctions.
Pawar said the board of City Corp unanimously decide on March 17 against making any offers for IPL. However, the company’s managing director, Anirudha Deshpande, was allowed to participate in the IPL auction in his individual capacity. “The board took a unanimous decision not to get involved. But, the managing director was eager to get associated with the bidding process, so he was allowed in his individual capacity. In the board’s resolution, it was made absolutely clear that there is no direct or indirect involvement of any shareholder other then Deshpande personally.”
Deshpande confirmed the board decision and said he had, in his individual capacity, along with the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) and Akruti, a Mumbai-based realty firm, filed the franchise bid. In addition to his cabinet position, Pawar is president of MCA.
However, they lost the bid to Sahara, he added. According to Deshpande, this has nothing to do with the Pawar family. He asserted that there was an attempt to defame the Pawars.
Said Pawar: “I was somebody in that organization (the Board of Control for Cricket in India, parent of IPL; Pawar was its president). Had I used any influence, do you think it would have lost the bid?”
Pawar also got backing from the former IPL commissioner, Lalit Modi, who took the bid award decisions. He told a TV channel: “Talk of Pawar’s involvement is a joke. Deshpande bid in his own name. This was qualified. He put together a consortium. And, mentioned that a new company will be formed. City Corp was not the actual bidder. Except to show the net worth of one promoter.”
Sule, who has been repeatedly denying her family’s involvement in IPL, once again said her family and she had nothing to do with IPL bidding. Sule told reporters: “I am a minority shareholder in the company (City Corp). I have a copy of the board resolution which clearly took a decision against participating in the bidding process. However, Deshpande was allowed in his individual capacity to bid for Pune franchise.”