Lalit Modi row: Congress steps up attack on Sushma Swaraj , BJP and RSS rally behind minister
New Delhi: Bringing Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the line of fire, senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh today alleged “achhe din” have arrived for those accused in criminal cases—from Amit Shah, to Ramdev, to Lalit Modi.
Singh appealed External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to resign in the wake of her intervention to “help a fugitive”.
"I have greatest regard for Sushmaji. Never expected her to intervene to help a fugitive evading Look out Notice when he is holidaying!”
Congress today stepped up attack on External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj alleging there was "quid pro quo" involved in her "assistance" to Lalit Modi in obtaining British travel documents and demanded that the scam- tainted former IPL Commissioner be brought back and tried in India.
Congress national spokesperson P L Punia said, "There are circumstances which establish contact between Sushma Swaraj and Lalit Modi. As a quid pro quo, Sushma Swaraj has done favour to a tainted person who is accused of Rs 700 crore money laundering, tax evasion and several other charges.
"There is a notice which has been issued against him. But he provided special favours. Within 24 hours, Modi was given total clearance to travel abroad. There is official position that continues to be same. But unofficially, she provided him help."
Terming Swaraj's claim of helping Modi on "humanitarian" grounds as "totally bogus" and one not standing scrutiny of facts, Punia told reporters here what has been said on behalf of the NDA government and BJP Chief Amit Shah in the Minister's defence is "a lame excuse".
"According to Portuguese law, it is not required for husband to sign papers before his wife goes under surgery.
There was a circular from Government of India asking British Government not to allow him travel abroad. So, what the minister is saying is very weird," he said.
The Congress leader said that the Swaraj family has had "long association" with Modi and on the basis of favours it received from Modi, he was helped, Punia said.
However Rejecting opposition demands for Sushma Swaraj's resignation, the government, the BJP as well as RSS defended the External Affairs Minister over the Lalit Modi travel documents issue, asserting that she had done no wrong and only acted on “humanitarian” grounds.
“We want to make it clear that whatever she has done is right. We justify it and the government completely stands by her,” Home Minister Rajnath Singh said after meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the controversy. Swaraj also reportedly talked to the Prime Minister.
Singh's comment came after reports that Sushma had written to British lawmaker Keith Vaz to recommend travel documents for Lalit Modi, scam-tainted former IPL commissioner, for visiting Portugal. Swaraj said she had written to Vaz on “humanitarian grounds” after Lalit Modi said his wife was ill.
The Home Minister said Swaraj told Vaz to do only what was “allowed” as per the rules and regulations of the UK. He said “any person with humanitarian approach” should do the same as Lalit Modi had said that his wife was suffering from cancer and he needed travel documents to visit her in Portugal.
When referred to opposition demands for her resignation, the Home Minister said, “I don't agree”. BJP chief Amit Shah also strongly defended Swaraj, saying she had acted in a “humanitarian” manner and “no big moral” issue was involved.