The Aam Aadmi Party on Monday dragged the Prime Minister’s Office into the raging row over External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj extending help to scam-tainted former IPL chief Lalit Modi alleging that “PMO may have been in the loop”.
Mocking Ms. Swaraj’s claim of helping Lalit Modi on “humanitarian” grounds, the party took a jibe at the BJP asking it to disclose other such actions taken on the same ground.
Addressing a press conference here, party leader Kumar Vishwas said that Ms. Swaraj “may have been targeted”. He said the issue was akin to a controversy involving Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s son.
ACHHE DIN for all accused of murder false encounter money laundering FEMA from Amit Shah to Ramdev to Lalit Modi. PM silent. मौंन स्वीकृति !— digvijaya singh (@digvijaya_28) >June 15, 2015
In the interest of transparency, Government of India should release the letters written to the UK Chancellor on the Lalit Modi case.— P. Chidambaram (@PChidambaram_IN) >June 14, 2015
“There’s a possibility that she’s being targeted because there have been instances in the past when Ministers have been cut to size. We want the Minister, who is also a leader of tall stature, to come forward and clarify as to whom all were involved in decision making,” Mr. Vishwas said.
He said the episode raises a number of “fundamental questions” as Lalit Modi has a “blue corner notice against him”.
“It is being said that she took the decision on humanitarian grounds. But is the government going to take the same position when it comes to other criminals as well?” he asked.
“There’s also an element of quid pro quo as Swaraj’s daughter has been the legal counsel of (Lalit) Modi in the past,” he told reporters.
Underlining the need to dig deeper into the issue, Mr. Vishwas said the PMO has been known to indulge in cutting Ministers to size. “May be it is involved here as well. It is hard to believe that the decision was taken without the PMO’s knowledge,” he claimed.
The genesis of the latest controversy was disclosure of emails showing that Ms. Swaraj had spoken to Indian-origin British MP Keith Vaz and its High Commissioner here James Bevan favouring the grant of travel documents to Lalit Modi to go to Portugal, purportedly for his wife’s cancer treatment in June last year.
Mr. Lalit Modi, who is wanted in India, has made London his home since 2010 to avoid a probe for alleged foreign exchange regulation violations in the T20 cricket tournament held in South Africa in 2009. The previous UPA government had revoked his passport and had pressed for his extradition.