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Talk that Pawar was 'very keen'

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By LOKENDRA PRATAP SAHI
  • Published 15.04.10
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Calcutta: Nobody has gone on record, but Shashi Tharoor wasn’t the only Union minister having an interest (or more than an interest) in last month’s auction of the two new IPL franchises.

According to The Telegraph’s sources, top gun Sharad Pawar was “very keen” to be associated with a franchise and would’ve been “pleased” had the Dhoots of Videocon bagged Pune.

Instead, that emerging metro got picked up by Sahara India Pariwar for $370 million. The second-highest bid was for Kochi ($333.33 million), from a consortium mentored by Tharoor, the junior foreign minister.

Apparently, Pawar wouldn’t even have minded had Ahmedabad attracted the second-highest bid. The Adanis, also known to be close to him, were bidding for Gujarat’s premier city.

Some have suggested that the pressure on the Kochi consortium to ‘default’, had everything to do with a move to have an Ahmedabad-based franchise, through the back door.

Kochi has held firm, despite the strong-arm tactics from certain quarters and the tweets.

Not just that.

On Wednesday afternoon, the under-fire IPL chairman and commissioner, Lalit Modi, again questioned the consortium’s credentials — this time at a media conference.

Expectedly, that triggered fresh charges and denials.

Pawar is, of course, a senior member of the Manmohan Singh cabinet. As for the cricket bit in his CV, he’s a former president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India and is months away from heading the world body.

The Kerala Cricket Association, meanwhile, has steered clear of the massive controversy, sparked by Modi’s tweeting.

“It won’t be in our best interests to add fuel to the fire… Right now, we’re only looking forward to acting as hosts (in 2011),” pointed out a senior Kerala official.

Kochi’s home matches will be played at the Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium there, which is undergoing a Rs 25 crore renovation, funded by the Greater Kochi Development Authority.