New Delhi: After forcing exit of Shashi Tharoor from the external affairs ministry, non-UPA members on Monday mounted an attack on IPL, demanding its ban and sought a joint parliamentary committee probe into its source of funds.
The IPL controversy has snowballed into such a proportion that Opposition protests had disrupted the Parliament since it reconvened last week after a month’s recess, delaying debate over key financial matters and a special vote on the Budget that will force the government to resign if it loses it.
Left parties, BJP, RJD, SP, JD(U) and BSP raised the issue in the Lok Sabha and demanded that IPL be taken over by the government.
The Left members alleged betting and laundering of black money through IPL.
As soon as the House met for the day, Lalu Prasad (RJD), Mulayam Singh Yadav (SP) and Sharad Yadav (JD-U) were on their feet demanding that government ban the IPL which according to them has become a “betting and gambling ring”.
Amid calls from Speaker Meira Kumar to allow the Question Hour, Sharad Yadav, said, “The moot question is the IPL and not Tharoor.”
Prasad wanted the government to take over the IPL and the BCCI. He alleged that IPL tournament involved black money.
Later in the Zero Hour, CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta raised the issue. He said he welcomed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s step of taking resignation of Tharoor but the main issue related to IPL.
Alleging that the game involves “laundering of black money” and “white-washing of black money”, he said it was an “aberration” taking place “under the nose of Finance Ministry”.
He criticised this form of 20-20 game, saying it was a “caricature” of cricket which was sending a wrong message to budding cricketers that they turn to it to earn money.
“Players are bought like vegetables. Betting is taking place openly. It is not cricket but organised gamble,” Dasgupta alleged, adding it involved huge amounts of money in a country which is poor in resources and has so many jobless people.
He said there were reports that large amount of money for IPL was coming from Mauritius and “dubious sources” in Dubai and black money in Swiss banks was being laundered into white money through this form of cricket.
“Politicians play cricket in bedrooms, corporates play in the boardrooms,” the CPI leader said.
He demanded that IPL should be banned and JPC probe ordered to find out where the money is coming from.
The Opposition had attacked the government on charges that former junior foreign minister Tharoor had lobbied to win a lucrative cricket league franchise that had a woman, identified by media as his girlfriend, among its owners.
Tharoor, who denied the woman was his proxy for the stake said to be worth $15 million, resigned on Sunday.
“The government strategy is very clear, we want the house to function and we want the business of parliament to function,” said Manish Tewary, Congress party spokesman.
There is no immediate threat to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government, despite losing two allies over a bill to reserve seats for women in legislatures that has left the coalition at its weakest since it was re-elected last year.
With its energies spent on marshalling allies, the Congress party is unlikely to push for contentious reforms. The government has deferred introducing a bill to fix liability of private nuclear reactor operators in case of accidents.
Also set to be delayed are the passage of other bills, such as those to allow foreign universities to open local campuses and to cut stake in top lender State Bank of India.
Reuters contributed to the story.