23 Apr : The government received strong demands for a JPC probe into the IPL controversy as Opposition benches in both Houses stalled parliamentary proceedings alleging unethical business interest of some Union ministers.
Responding to the demands, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee said in Lok Sabha,“It (a decision on JPC) is to be taken after due diligence and consideration. It cannot be like instant coffee or instant consideration.”
Observing that the government will have to ponder over it, Mukherjee, who is also the Leader of the Lok Sabha, said, “I will communicate your sentiments to the Prime Minister. As and when the government takes a decision, we will come to Parliament. Let us wait for some time.”
While the Lok Sabha witnessed two adjournments till 2pm, Rajya Sabha was adjourned till 2:30pm.
In the Lok Sabha, Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj raised the IPL controversy as soon as the House met for the day. She said the issue was getting “more serious by the day” and a JPC probe should be ordered “to save the dignity of the House and to bring to light the whole issue”.
Swaraj said allegations were flying thick and fast that two senior ministers in the government had a role to play in the controversy.
Though she did not name any minister, her attack came against the backdrop of reports that civil aviation minister Praful Patel had given details of projections of new franchisee valuations to Shashi Tharoor two days before the Kochi IPL team was bid.
There are also allegations that a close relative of a senior minister, belonging to a UPA partner, had benefitted.
Swaraj said now reports had come out that the ministers had indulged in “gross misuse of power” including diversion of a civilian aircraft for the IPL players.
“The whole issue (of IPL) should be probed. The Leader of the House had said they are ready to probe. We feel investigating agencies will not be able to bring the truth to the fore. From day one of the episode, we have demanded that JPC be constituted to look into this,” Swaraj said.
Supporting her, JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav said there were “all sorts of allegations” against IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi “of looting the whole system from here to Rajasthan”.
Pressing for accountability for the cricket T20 league too, he said IPL should be answerable to Parliament and the whole country.
Yadav said sports minister M.S. Gill was talking as if he was in the Opposition, but nobody took note of it.
Underlining the “urgent need” for constituting JPC, CPI-M leader Basudeb Acharia referred to such a probe ordered in the 1991 securities scam by the P.V. Narasimha Rao government when Manmohan Singh was the finance minister.
“I urge the government to find the truth and fix responsibility for such large scale corruption. JPC should be constituted immediately,” he said.
Alleging that IPL was the ”biggest gambling”, Acharia said new facts were tumbling out every day.
“This is not cricket, it is business. They have used the Mauritius route to pump in thousands of crores of rupees and the government was sleeping. Unless there is JPC, truth will not come out,” he said.
CPI member Gurudas Dasgupta termed the IPL controversy as the “most serious fraud in the history of Independent India” and said “unpardonable violation of law has taken place for the last two years right under the nose of the government”.
He said the Income Tax department had informed a parliamentary standing committee that there could be no assessment of the IPL for 21 months.
“I, as a tax payer, am assessed every year. Why IPC is given amnesty and unpardonable privilege,” he wondered.
He said the government should ponder over “gross failure” of the enforcement agencies.