Kochi:Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor on Sunday made it clear that he has no stake in the Kochi franchise of the Indian Premier League and that his role was confined to encouraging the consortium that eventually bagged the team.
Tharoor said he does not have the required resources or time to get involved in the bidding, which was a business-oriented decision taken by business-minded people.
"All I did on my part was to offer encouragement, blessings and expert advise when required to the bidders. Beyond that, I had no role to play. It's a group of business people and I understand it's a business decision," Tharoor said.
Tharoor's clarifications came after little known Rendezvous Sports World Limited bagged the Kochi franchise for a staggering USD 333.33 million for the next 10 years.
"I am not even sure whether I know all of them, nor do I have any knowledge of the decision that how much they were going to bid. I know this Rendezvous sports group and had met the Gaekwad brothers.
"I have given them all kind of encouragement but my role was limited. It was like...what shall I say...mentor sounds too grand a word," Tharoor added.
IPL commissioner Lalit Modi also told reporters in Chennai that Tharoor's role was that of a facilitator only.
"Mr Tharoor was involved in facilitating and trying to get a team from Kochi to bid. He is an ardent fan of the game who wanted a team from Kochi and his role ends there," Modi said.
Tharoor, who is the chairman of City Cricketers, a Thiruvananthapuram-based cricket club, termed the growing popularity of IPL as phenomenal and said the league has become an extremely valuable activity.
"It does seem to have become very clear that IPL is an extremely valuable activity that is here to stay and grow. It will go a long way in terms of its popularity. For me, it has turned out to be phenomenal," he said.
"I am pleased to have Kochi in IPL. The message is very loud and clear that this is a part of Kerala coming of age. It will help a lot in transformation of our state into a really a kind of place where everyone can look up to," Tharoor said.
"It will capture the spirit of the enthusiasm of the young and give young Keralites a team to identify with. It will give them a passion of the sport which has worldwide recognition and certainly national significance," added the minister from Kerala.
On whether pacer S Sreesanth, a local favourite who represents Kings XI Punjab in IPL, should be playing for the next team, Tharoor said he was not the one to decide on it.
"Not only Sreesanth, many Keralites playing for various teams will have Kochi team on their minds," he added.