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Pawar backs Modi in IPL Kochi row

Last updated on: April 16, 2010 00:33 IST

Sharad Pawar came out in support of IPL commissioner Lalit Modi, saying there was nothing wrong in making public names of the stakeholders of the Kochi franchise.

"There in nothing wrong in disclosing the names of the stakeholders to the public," Pawar, a former Board of Control for Cricket in India president and ICC president-elect, said.

"We should not give too much importance to campaigns by interested groups. I don't think we should give so much importance to the Kochi  IPL controversy."

He was asked about Modi revealing the names of the Kochi stakeholders, one of them being Sunanda Pushkar, a close friend of the Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor.

Tharoor is alleged to have had a hand in Pushkar getting free equity worth 70 crore in IPL Kochi.

"If the IPL commissioner or BCCI president is asking any information about any bid, they have got every right to ask for the information because unless and until they collect the correct information, they will not realise who are behind this," he said.

The former BCCI president also supported Tharoor, who helped set up the consortium which bagged the Kochi franchise, saying the minister's "basic interest" was to bring cricket to center stage in Kerala and provide opportunities to players from the state.

"What my observation is that Tharoor's basic interest was that Kochi should get opportunity in the IPL. He was eager to show to people of Kerala that IPL is also a part of Kerala and wanted to encourage new players from Kerala," Pawar said.

The Agriculture Minister expressed hope that the IPL governing council meeting later this month will clear the "misunderstandings".

"I am absolutely clear that when BCCI president Shashank Manohar will have this meeting, all misunderstandings will be cleared," he said.

Pawar also said Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has no role in the entire episode.

"They (Kochi investors) met me once, and there was suggestion that Kochi stadium will take a year or two to complete, so in the meantime if they play in Ahmedabad that will be better.

"But I advised them 'you have taken the option of Kochi, please do not shift the place'. Fortunately, that time Narendra Modi was in town. These people met Modi also and in my presence Modi told the investors, 'Don't insist for Ahmedabad, because you got this opportunity for Kochi'," he said.

Pawar said he did not believe Lalit Modi offered the Kochi franchise $50 million to back out. He also questioned the seriousness of the underworld threat that Tharoor is claimed to have received.

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