Centre still in the throes of Lalit row

Updated - November 16, 2021 04:58 pm IST

Published - June 24, 2015 02:49 am IST - New Delhi:

For the Narendra Modi government, the political crisis shows no signs of abating even as it mounted efforts to bring the former IPL commissioner Lalit Modi — the cause of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s current problems — to book.

An unrelenting Congress forced Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday to deny giving a clean chit to Dushyant Singh, son of Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje. Speaking in the United States, he stressed that Mr. Singh’s business arrangements with Mr. Modi would remain under investigation.

The BJP faced further embarrassment as R.K. Singh, its Member of Parliament and former Union Home Secretary, told a television channel, “Lalit Modi is an absconder and no one should help him. The government should file a case to revoke his passport. He should immediately be brought back, he is an offender.”

Congress says Jaitley’s comments will affect probe

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said in the U.S. on Tuesday that his remarks that Dushyant Singh, son of Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, and former IPL commissioner Lalit Modi had only a “commercial transaction” had been misinterpreted.

Soon, senior Congress leader Anand Sharma took him on, saying “His ... clarification does not wash.” Mr. Jaitley, he said, “should have been more careful, restrained and balanced” in his remarks as his comments could adversely affect the investigations by the Enforcement Directorate, which was under his Ministry.

On the sidelines of a public event at Stanford University, Mr. Jaitley said, “Whatever various assessing authorities in India have to do, it is their job. They would continue to do that.”

The remarks of the former Home Secretary R.K. Singh, a BJP MP, on that Mr. Lalit Modi was an offender who should be brought back triggered off another Opposition onslaught with D. Raja of the Communist Party of India demanding an explanation from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

A few days ago, another party MP, Kirti Azad, had tweeted about “a snake in the grass” in their middle and then gone on to demand that the Enforcement Directorate enlarge its investigations to include all members of the IPL governing council and the BCCI executive committee. Mr. Azad’s attack, BJP sources said, was directed at Mr. Jaitley.

If Mr. Sharma took on Mr. Jaitley, Rajasthan Pradesh Congress chief Sachin Pilot said the Prime Minister was “losing political capital” by trying to protect External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Ms. Raje through his continued silence on an “indefensible issue”.

“The allegations against the BJP leaders have not been brought by the Congress. We demand their resignations on legal, ethical and moral grounds,” Mr. Pilot said in Jaipur, where the Congress plans to hold a protest on Wednesday, demanding the resignations of Ms. Raje and Ms. Swaraj.

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