Lalit Modi row: Opposition demands Sushma Swaraj's resignation
New Delhi: Opposition parties today slammed External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and demanded her resignation for "helping" scam-tainted former IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi in procuring travel documents in the UK, a country which he has made his home to avoid legal processes in India.
RSS, however, defended Swaraj, saying whatever she might have done would have been guided by her "humane" nature and "nationalistic" spirit.
"I did not expect that Foreign Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj ji would help Lalit Modi, against whom government has issued a look-out notice, procure travel documents...I appeal to Sushma Swaraj ji to immediately resign on moral ground," senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh said today.
His comment came after reports surfaced that Sushma had written to British lawmaker Keith Vaz to allegedly recommend travel documents for Lalit Modi for visiting Portugal. Swaraj said she had written to Vaz on "humanitarian grounds" after Lalit Modi said his wife was ill.
Digvijay Singh noted that Lalit Modi is facing probe by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence and has been served a notice by it, asking him to appear before it.
"If such a person is recommended by the Foreign Minister to Indian-origin British lawmaker Keith Vaz for help in getting the travel documents in the UK which he gets within 24-hours, then it is a serious issue," the Congress leader said.
He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi should clarify whether or not this was done with his "consent".
Singh's party colleague Sachin Pilot said the Prime Minister "must himself answer as to why they (government) have been helping, supporting people who have been associated with all sorts of illegal transactions, who have run away from the country and are living overseas trying to avoid Indian law."
JD(U) spokesman K C Tyagi also said, "I condemn the help given to him (Lalit Modi) by Swaraj."
CPI leader D raja said the matter was serious because Swaraj has admitted to "helping" Lalit Modi who is wanted in the country for economic offences and has been avoiding coming to the country.
"Prime Minister Narendra Modi owes an explanation to the country on impropriety committed by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj," he said.
Raja said the Prime Minister should say whether "this is also a part of good governance promised by him."
CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat termed the matter as a "case of grave impropriety" and said "it is the duty of the Prime Minister to answer".
AAP spokesman Ashutosh said, "It amounts to admission of a fact that she has helped Lalit Modi who is a legal offender. There is a lookout notice for him, a red corner notice and he is being probed by Enforcement Directorate."
He said Swaraj has "no option but to resign" and if she does not, then the Prime Minister should sack her.
On the other hand, RSS leader Indresh Kumar said, "Sushma is full of nationalism and humane nature" and "whatever she might have done, would be guided by nationalism and humane nature."
BSP chief Mayawati, when asked about it at a press conference in Lucknow, said, "I do not have much knowledge of the matter. When inquiry report comes and Parliament meets, this issue will heat up. We want the facts of the matter. It will be better to react only after the inquiry report comes."