As Govt. douses one fire, another breaks out

Jaitley comes out in support of beleaguered Sushma Swaraj

Updated - December 04, 2021 11:30 pm IST

Published - June 17, 2015 03:39 am IST - New Delhi:

NSUI activists stage a demonstration near Union Minister Sushma Swaraj’s residence in New Delhi on Tuesday. Photo: Sushil Kumar Verma

NSUI activists stage a demonstration near Union Minister Sushma Swaraj’s residence in New Delhi on Tuesday. Photo: Sushil Kumar Verma

Even as the Modi government sought to end the speculation about an internal feud in its ranks by fielding Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to bat for External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj 48 hours after the Lalit Modi controversy broke, the tale got murkier.

The scam-tainted former IPL commissioner’s cheeky tweet on Monday — “This is war. So bring it on. I choose to lose a battle to win a war” – took on a new meaning when documents supplied by his lawyer revealed that Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje had in August 2011 — while she was Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly — backed his immigration application on condition it would not be made known to Indian authorities.

The letter, purportedly written by Ms. Raje says, “I make this statement in support of any immigration application that Lalit Modi makes, but do so on the strict condition that my assistance will not be known to the Indian authorities.” However, Ms. Raje told ANI that she had no recollection of any such document. 

 This document released on Monday night by a PR firm engaged by Mr. Modi’s lawyer Mehmood Abdi does not bear Ms. Raje’s signature. But Mr. Lalit Modi told India Today channel that Ms. Raje had given a written statement to support his application. 

PTI reports:

Mr. Modi told the channel, “My relationship with Vasundhara Raje goes back 30 years. That relationship is known to everybody. She is a close friend of the family and my wife for a long time...She openly agreed to be [a witness], but unfortunately by the time the case went to trial, she was already CM, so she did not become a witness.”

DRI notice still stands: Jaitley

The BJP also wanted to send a message to party cadres, especially after three-time BJP MP Kirti Azad used the social media on Monday to wash the party’s dirty linen in public and hint at an internal feud.

On Tuesday, Finance Minster Arun Jaitley used a joint briefing with Home Minister Rajnath Singh called to announce a post-flood reconstruction package for Jammu and Kashmir, to declare solidarity with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.

“Sushma Swaraj acted with good intentions and in good faith,” he said, in response to a question.

“The entire government and the party are one on the matter and there should be no room for any doubt,” he continued, adding, “All allegations [against Ms. Swaraj] are baseless.”

Asked if she had acted on her own or on behalf of the Modi government, Mr. Jaitley said: “Our ministers are capable of taking decisions. For the decisions taken, we all are collectively responsible.” But it also became apparent that this was just a truce – a temporary cessation of hostilities.

For, in the same breath, Mr. Jaitley clarified that the Enforcement Directorate – that comes under the Finance Ministry — had investigated several cases against former IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi — and that notices had been issued in “15 out of 16 cases” against him.

He also revealed that, on the ED’s request, a blue corner notice was issued by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence in 2010 against Mr. Modi and “that notice still stands.” But with the fresh revelations about Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje’s alleged role in the case, the government will have to go back to the drawing board, as this will give new ammunition to the Congress.

Top developments

1 Lalit Modi has admitted that he sought and received help from External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje. “I have a family and legal relationship with the Sushma Swaraj family; it is a close relationship,” Mr Modi said adding that his relationship with Ms. Raje went back 30 years. >Read more
2 Mr. Modi had dismissed allegations levelled against him in the controversy, saying that he was being targeted as part of a political conspiracy aimed at destabilising the Narendra Modi government. >Read more
3 Mr. Modi's counsel Mehmood Abdi accused former UPA Ministers Salman Khursheed, P. Chidambaram and Shashi Tharoor of being behind the current controversy.
4 Demanding Ms. Swaraj's resignation, Congress spokesperson Ajoy Kumar said: "The BJP, the External Affairs Minister and the whole government have come out to save an accused of the Enforcement Directorate." >Read more
5 BJP MP Kirti Azad, hinting at a feud within the party on Twitter, referred to a party insider playing a role in leaking information about Ms. Swaraj’s recommendation and her family’s association with Mr. Modi. >Read more
6 The U.K. said it will not probe into the allegations against Labour party MP Keith Vaz. The Commissioner for Standards examined a complaint of conflict-of-interest and dismissed it for lack of sufficient evidence. >Read more
7 The Union government and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh came out in full support of Ms. Swaraj. Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah said the recommendation was made on “humanitarian” and not “moral” grounds. >Read more
8 Samajwadi Party came out in support of Ms. Swaraj over her help to Lalit Modi, saying what she did was “perfectly alright” and not a “crime” as people in power have to accommodate the requests of people in need. >Read more
9 Ms. Swaraj defended her decision to recommend travel documents for former Indian Premier League commissioner Lalit Modi, after taking a "humanitarian view" and asserted that she asked the British government to examine his request and follow the rules.
10 Ms. Swaraj put out her statement on the microblogging site Twitter, clarifying that she had pointed out that if British authorities were to give travel documents to Mr. Modi, who has sought the documents to be able to travel to Portugal for the treatment of his wife, India would not object.
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