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Officials of the Income-Tax department have visited the IPL offices in Mumbai on Thursday in what is being described as an "inquiry" of a preliminary nature. The development comes a day after the Central Board of Direct Taxes said it had ordered an investigation of the Kochi franchise sale issue.

"There is an inquiry, it is not a raid," Lalit Modi, the IPL commissioner, told PTI. "The I-T officials are possibly looking for the details of the tender (for the Kochi team). We will extend them all possible cooperation."

The I-T department's intervention follows several days of allegations and counter-allegations involving Rendezvous Sports World, the holding company of the Kochi franchise, the composition of its ownership and its shareholding pattern. The shareholders were named by Lalit Modi, the IPL commissioner, over the weekend, an action that sparked off the subsequent furore.

The controversy also led to the Kochi franchise naming a new chief executive. Confirming the development to Cricinfo, Kailash Singhal, part of Kochi consortium, said the move was necessary because the current chief executive, Shailendra Gaikward, had his name mentioned repeatedly in the ongoing allegations. "We did not want anyone to suffer for no fault of his," Singhal said. T Keshav, Singhal's partner in Rosy Blue Diamond Group, one of the investors in Kochi, is likely to replace Gaikward.

One aspect of the controversy has been the role of Shashi Tharoor, a junior minister in India's federal government, who played what he called a "mentoring role" in Rendezvous's attempt to get the Kochi franchise. The shareholding pattern revealed Sunanda Pushkar, a close associate of Tharoor's, as one of the equity holders, which was seen as a conflict of interest for the minister and has put his future in the government under a cloud.

Tharoor is expected to make a statement in Parliament over the next couple of days but on Thursday he met Sonia Gandhi, the head of the Congress party to which he belongs, reportedly discussing his role in the Kochi deal. He had met other party seniors early in the day but the fact that Gandhi chose to meet him is seen as a good sign for the minister. For the record, the Congress has said the party will discuss Tharoor's case after the Prime Minister returns from a trip to the US and Brazil.

In an interview to NDTV on Wednesday, Tharoor said there was no question of him resigning. Tharoor denied that his party had left him out in the cold, and added that "resigning would mean I've given up."

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