New Delhi :Outraged by “outright lies” in the media, Dubai-based businesswoman Sunanda Pushkar, in the spotlight for her association with the Kochi IPL franchise, Wednesday lashed out those who had projected her as “a proxy” for her friend and Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor.
In a stinging statement made available to IANS, Pushkar appealed for the media to respect her privacy. “I am not a public figure and I am outraged at the distortions and outright lies about me, my background and my life that have appeared in the press.”
She accused the media of ignoring her professional background and international business experience and focussing “obsessively” on her 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.”
Hitting out at the media, Pushkar 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,” she said in the impassioned statement.
Pushkar said she was issuing the statement “to set the record straight” about her 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 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”.
According to her, she had previously been approached by Karim Morani of Kolkata Knight Riders to join them in a similar capacity but had regretted that the timing was not convenient.
“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.”
Clarifying her position in the team in the statement, she said she had accepted no salary or expenses and was “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.”