New Delhi: Dubai-based businesswoman Sunanda Pushkar said she has given up her stake in the IPL Kochi franchise following a row involving her friend and Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor who is under pressure to quit.
Hours after a television channel reported that the sweat equity had been given to her in violation of Company Law, her lawyer Ashish Mehta said Pushkar had voluntarily surrendered the stake to Rendezvous Sports World, which is part of a consortium that won the Kochi franchise.
"I am a professional with 20 years of well-earned successful experience. I am deeply distressed at the violent, malicious reporting of recent days surrounding my role in Rendezvous," Mehta quoted Pushkar as saying in a letter sent to the consortium.
"I had been looking forward to contributing over the next 10 years to building the team`s brand, organizing events for it and marketing the team in India and the Gulf in particular," she said.
"However, I can no longer imagine being able to find the enthusiasm required to associate myself with any IPL activity in the foreseeable future."
Her lawyer said the decision was taken Saturday but could not be released because he "wasn`t available for consultations with my client".
"It has got nothing to do with Tharoor. If that was the case, the controversy has been going on for a week, she should have given up almost a week ago," Mehta said.
But the announcement came hours after Tharoor met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to explain his side of the story following opposition calls for his sacking or resignation from the council of ministers.
The controversy erupted after IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi revealed the ownership pattern of Kochi IPL, stating that Pushkar, a friend of Tharoor, owned free equity in Rendezvous Sports World.
Modi accused Tharoor of asking him not to reveal the ownership details -- a charge denied by the minister.
Pushkar, who is originally from Kashmir, alleged again Sunday that she was being targeted because she was a woman.
"As a woman professional, I am shocked to find how easily certain parties with vested interests questioned my credentials mainly because I am a woman. I therefore voluntarily offer to resign to Rendezvous the sweat equity they had offered me. I don`t intend to seek compensation for the efforts I have made so far for them," said Pushkar.
Describing her son as half-Malayali, she wished "Kerala cricket well".
Pushkar had told reporters that she was asked by Rendezvous to associate "with them as a consultant in their various sporting activities and particularly in their potential bid to acquire the franchise of an IPL team.
"In view of my extensive international experience as a business executive, marketing manager and entrepreneur, I was invited to assist Rendezvous particularly in the areas of fund-raising, networking... event management; and brand building.”
"Because this is a start-up effort, I was told that in lieu of a salary they would grant me minor equity in Rendezvous in return for my efforts - which is a common practice across the world for start-ups and projects of this nature."
She went on to say that she was no proxy for the minister and she was "outraged at the distortions and outright lies about me, my background and my life that have appeared in the press".