Just four days after she accused the media of hounding her, Dubai-based Sunanda Pushkar on Sunday gave up her stake in the IPL Kochi franchise amid a row involving her friend and minister of state for external affairs Shashi Tharoor.
Her lawyer Ashish Mehta read out a statement saying Pushkar had on her own surrendered the sweat equity offered to her by Rendezvous Sports World, a member of the consortium that won the Kochi Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise.
“The decision has nothing to do with Tharoor. This is her own decision,” Mehta said. He added that if Tharoor, who is under intense pressure to quit over the controversy, was the reason, she would have taken the same decision a week ago when the matter hit the headlines.
In a statement read out by Mehta on her behalf, Pushkar said she was giving up the equity because “given the deeply unpleasant publicity surrounding my involvement (in IPL Kochi franchise), I can no longer be able to find the enthusiasm required to associate myself with any IPL activity in the foreseeable future”.
She said she was shocked that “certain parties” were questioning her credentials merely because she was a woman and that she did not intend to seek compensation for the efforts she had put in for Rendezvous.
Mehta insisted that the decision by Pushkar was taken on Saturday, a day before revelations that Rendezvous had violated the Company Law by giving her sweat equity.
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 had said on April 14 that she was approached by Rendezvous asking her 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, 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.”
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”.