PtG Article 20.04.2010

Indian Minister Shashi Tharoor Quits over Cricket Row

India's junior foreign minister Shashi Tharoor has resigned amid controversy over his role with the winning bid for a new Indian Premier League (IPL) team.

A woman friend of Mr Tharoor allegedly received a free stake in the franchise. Mr Tharoor denies any wrongdoing in the bid for the new Kochi cricket team, to be based in his home state of Kerala. He claimed he was just a mentor for the team and denied allegations that he was set to benefit financially.

The scandal surrounding Mr Tharoor has caused uproar in the closing week of the IPL's third season.

Budget discussions in parliament were held up on Friday as the opposition demanded clarity on his role in the deal and in the consortium that set up the Kochi team.

Press reports say Mr Tharoor was asked to resign by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. President Pratibha Patil accepted the resignation late on Sunday, reports said.

The resignation followed a week of drama involving a public spat between Lalit Modi, the head of the IPL, and Mr Tharoor over ownership of the new cricket team for Kochi.

Mr Tharoor has said that Mr Modi tried to persuade the owners of Kochi to drop their bid in favour of another city.

The IPL chief is also now in trouble, with income tax officials launching an investigation into his rapidly growing cricket empire, amid allegations of corruption and nepotism.

Indian media reports suggest there are plans to force him from his office as well.