Mystery continues to haunt the death of Sunanda Pushkar, late wife of Congress leader Mr. Shahshi Tharoor. The controversy has resurfaced after a doctor probing her death has stated that pressures were exerted on him to wrongly state that the death was from natural causes. The police did not pursue the case as expected because people thought that UPA celebrities were involved. However, now with the NDA government in office, people expect that the case will be pursued through a credible investigation. Will it? If a genuine probe could have embarrassed UPA leaders, will such a probe embarrass NDA leaders any less? Consider some broad facts related to the case.
It may be recalled that Mr. Shashi Tharoor had to resign from his post as Minister of State in the Ministry of External Affairs due to allegations that in return for a bribe he had helped the owners of the Kochi cricket team to get its control. The IPL cricket league matches were in the thick of public controversy due to charges of match fixing and betting syndicates. Sunanda had sizable financial assets and there were allegations that she was a front for parking the money illegally earned by Mr. Tharoor. Indeed while addressing an election rally Mr. Narendra Modi even taunted Mr. Tharoor to say:
"There was a Congress leader who was a minister in Parliament. He was accused of amassing wealth from cricket. He had said in Parliament that he is not connected to the Rs 50 crore that in the lady's name. Have you ever heard of a Rs 50 crore girlfriend?”
In the light of this background it might appear that a vigorous probe into Sunanda’s death is imminent. However, there could be a slight complication.
Sunanda’s death is a sub-plot of the controversy. The main plot relates to the crime and corruption that had been exposed in the IPL league cricket matches. Betting syndicates in collusion with IPL officials and cricket players organized match fixing to generate astronomical amounts of money. This was investigated by the CBI. But despite the raging ongoing controversy responsibility for corruption within the IPL was never adequately addressed. And here is the catch.
According to the CBI Dawood Ibrahim controlled the betting syndicates that generated all the black money through match fixing. And according to the CBI the money generated from match fixing by Dawood was most likely used by terrorists.
Less than 48 hours before her death Sunanda met with eminent journalist Ms Barkha Dutt and reportedly told her that she was being made a scapegoat for all the wheeling and dealing going on in the IPL League. She told Ms Dutt that she would shortly meet the media and expose all that was happening in the IPL cricket. In the morning of her death she repeated similar sentiments to Ms Nalini Singh, also a well known commentator. Both Ms Dutt and Ms Singh recounted to TV viewers their interaction with Sunanda. It follows therefore that if there was foul play connected to Sunanda’s death, a probe would seek the motive for the crime.
In the light of her threat to brief the media the finger of suspicion would point at the criminals involved in the IPL scandal. In that event the full glare of publicity would again focus on the IPL corruption and how it was never adequately probed. Indeed the President of the IPL who became the centre of controversy is back and firmly in saddle. People might ask why the management of IPL cricket could countenance the drift despite CBI warnings about security threats emanating from Dawood Ibrahim’s involvement.
There were ten members of the IPL Management Board at the relevant time when the crime and corruption related to IPL cricket continued to fester. Two of the most powerful leaders of the NDA government were among the ten who remained helpless and mute while IPL match fixing that allegedly aided terrorism continued unchecked. They were Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Mr. Arun Jaitley. If the IPL scam is once again highlighted some uncomfortable questions could be raised. The failure of IPL board members to stem the rot could attract public censure.
So will there be a probe to uncover the full trail of crime and corruption that might have been behind the death of Sunanda Pushkar? Your guess would be as good as mine.