New Delhi: Sunanda Pushkar, who has been linked to the Indian Premier League (IPL) Kochi team controversy, Wednesday blasted her critics and denied acting as a proxy for her friend and Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor.
In a hard-hitting statement, Pushkar accused the media of ignoring her professional background and international business experience and focussing "obsessively on my personal life as if a woman cannot be capable of professional or financial success.
"My own business interests and assets are substantial, and efforts to besmirch Tharoor by presenting me as a proxy for him are personally insulting for me as a woman and as a friend."
"I have built up a respectable and successful career while coping with widowhood and raising a child as a single mother. Yet I have been reduced to a caricature in the media, portrayed with inaccuracies and falsehoods," she said.
She also dragged the name of Kolkata Knight Riders in the picture, saying that Karim Morani, on behalf of KKR had offered her to join the team but she could not do it owing to `inconvinient timing`.
KKR team management however, totally refuted her claims and said that no one from the franchisee had approached her with such a request.
Pushkar said she was issuing the statement "to set the record straight about my role in the public controversy surrounding the Kerala IPL Team franchise".
The controversy erupted after Indian Premier League (IPL) Commissioner Lalit Modi revealed the ownership pattern of Kochi IPL, stating that Pushkar, a friend of Tharoor, owned free equity in Rendezvous Sports, which is a part owner of IPL Kochi team.
Modi also accused Tharoor of asking him not to reveal the ownership details -- a charge denied by the minister.
Pushkar said she was approached last year by Rendezvous "inviting me to associate myself with them as a consultant in their various sporting activities and particularly in their potential bid to acquire the franchise of an IPL team.
"I had previously been approached by Karim Morani of Kolkata Knight Riders to join them in a similar capacity and had regretted that the timing was not convenient for me.
"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, elsewhere; 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.
"I should stress that I have accepted no salary or expenses and am conscious that the equity remains only on paper for the foreseeable future.
"However, with the equity comes an opportunity to participate in the management and promotion of Rendezvous and in particular of its IPL team, a challenge I welcome."
She said she had "lived a life of integrity and committed no crime, yet I am treated in a humiliating manner. My parents, friends and family members have been hounded by intrusive journalists.
"My personal life is nobody else`s business and if I have a marriage to announce, I will do it myself, rather than leave it to strangers. I would request the media to respect my privacy."