New Delhi: It's an open war between Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor and IPL commissioner Lalit Modi over the ownership of the new Kochi team with Tharoor's key aide calling Modi a "convicted drug peddler".
Jacob Joseph, speaking exclusively to CNN-IBN, said: "What is the controversy about the Kochi team? Is there anybody there related to Tharoor. There are a lot of people seen at different public functions with him. Why single out Sunanda Pushkar? He is married to Crista Gilles, she lives in New York."
He went on to add that "we have not got any communication from the BCCI. They hasve said our papers are in order. And for your information Modi is someone who was convicted for possession of 400 grams of cocaine and charged with assault and kidnapping. He has even served a two-year sentence and those are the kind of people who we put in charge of cricket in this country.
"Why isn't he releasing the ownership of other team members? Why does he not release the holding of Rajasthan Royals?"
Jacob also alleged that Modi had threatened to pull games out of Kerala and give them no access to the big players.
"I am going to make sure you guys get the worst name, worst jerseys, and that you will not get access to the great players. He has openly said it," said Jacob.
The aide went on to add that this issue was not about "Tharoor or Modi, but about Tharoor and the rest of Kerala."
"We are going to take this on. How dare he say anything against the Kerala IPL team. He told in DNA that Kerala team will bring disrepute to IPL. How dare he says that?
"Lalit Modi has brought disrepute to the name of IPL and cricket. Tharoor has no links to any of the owners. He fought for the IPL team just like we will fight for an airport, for a seaport and any other improvement we can do for Kerala. We have no ownership, we have done all this for the love of cricket and for the love of Kerala," he said.
Tharoor and Modi went on a collision course after the IPL commissioner went public on Twitter on Monday questioning the ownership of the Kochi franchise.
Modi trained his guns at the stake of one Sunanda Pushkar, tweeting: "I was told by him not to get into who owns Rendezvous, especially Sunanda Pushkar. Why?"
The lady in question is reportedly close to the minister. While not much is actually known about the lady and her link with the consortium that bought the Kochi IPL team, sources have told CNN-IBN that Modi believes Tharoor played spin-doctor to ensure that Sunanda Pushkar gets the 4.5 per cent equity that is said to be worth between Rs 60 and 80 crore.
Rendezvous responded to Modi's tweets by saying that he's violating confidentiality agreements about ownership of teams, and threatened to sue him. And reportedly, the IPL commissioner was also pulled up by the BCCI president Shashank Manohar for his public disclosure.