Rejecting the government’s defence over the > Lalit Modi issue , Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday launched a scathing attack on External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whom he dared to bring the former IPL commissioner back to India for cleansing cricket.
Countering Ms. Swaraj’s allegations against his father Rajiv Gandhi, Mr. Gandhi said that the late prime minister’s name been cleared by the judicial system of the country even as he alleged that she and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had defended “black money network” in Parliament on Wednesday.
He further charged that > Lalit Modi was a key link between the political system and black money.
The Congress leader also asserted that his party would keep up pressure on the issue and took a jibe at Narendra Modi saying that he “gets scared”.
Leading a Congress protest against the government inside Parliament complex, which was also joined by members from Left and Trinamool Congress, Mr. Gandhi rubbished Ms. Swaraj’s counter offensive in Lok Sabha on Wednesday, asking why was she “hiding” whatever she did for Lalit Modi if it was truly for a humanitarian cause as has been claimed by her.
Taking a dig over the Modi surname common to the Prime Minister and the former IPL chairman, Mr. Gandhi said he was telling Narendra Modi to catch Lalit Modi and bring him back to India.
“I tell this to Modiji that he has an opportunity. Bring back > Lalit Modi and clean up cricket. India is giving you (prime minister) a chance. You still have the credibility,” he said.
Gandhi also remarked, “Many people think Modi-ji has guts, some people say he doesn’t. If you don’t bring back Lalit Modi, if you continue to allow these people to defend Lalit Modi the way Sushma-ji did... We have understood that this Prime Minister gets scared.
“We will put so much pressure that Lalit Modi is brought back and whatever mess that has emerged in cricket is cleaned up.”
Mr. Gandhi also referred to what he described as the climb-down of the government on the land Bill issue.
Responding to Ms. Swaraj’s charge that Congress had helped Bofors accused Ottavio Quattrocchi and Bhopal gas leak accused Warren Anderson to flee India, Mr. Gandhi said the judicial system of India had cleared his father 30 years back, but the rival party still keeps up raking those issues.
“It makes no difference to me. I am here to defend the country from the RSS and (Narendra) Modi,” he said.
Pressed further over Ms. Swaraj’s claims, Mr. Gandhi told journalists that some television channels were issued notice by the government recently. “When your views clash with their views, your mikes will be shut,” he said.
On the Lalit Modi issue, Mr. Gandhi said, “I had said yesterday said that the focus is on Sushma—ji. Now, Jaitley-ji, too, has defended Lalit Modi. The issue is very simple.
What we call IPL cricket, there are two networks in it. One network is what is being seen by the youth of India.
“Second is the hidden network of Lalit Modi, which is operated behind closed doors, the network of black money, corruption and politicians. Lalit Modi is the link between the political system and black money, the biggest link.”
He further alleged that Ms. Swaraj, Mr. Jaitley and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje were protecting that network.
“Sushma-ji is trapped in it since she has a relation with Lalit Modi. Now, she is trying to save herself and the network.
“I am telling this to Modi-ji... not Lalit Modi, but Narendra Modi-ji. It is a weird case that the names are similar. I am saying this to Prime Minister Modi-ji that youth is slowly understanding the network. They are seeing that there is a network of cricket and behind it is dirt,” the Congress Vice President said.
Intervening in a debate in Lok Sabha on Wednesday, Ms. Swaraj had torn into Congress, saying it had helped Bofors accused Ottavio Quattrocchi and Bhopal gas leak accused Warren Anderson flee India and roped in Rajiv Gandhi in this regard.
Responding to Mr. Gandhi’s charge that she had received money for helping Lalit Modi, Ms. Swaraj told him to ask his “mamma” as to “how much money had been taken from Quattrocchi” and “why did ‘daddy’ (Rajiv Gandhi) secure the release of the killer of 15,000 people (in Bhopal gas leak),” an apparent reference to Anderson.
It is clear in the Lalit Modi controvesy that a financial transaction took place, the Congress vice-president insisted.
“She (Swaraj) spoke at length, gave long statements, but did not respond to our question. It was a simple question. I asked, ‘How much money did you get? And why did you do that charity and humanitarian work? The whole world does charity, but it does so in the open.
“Why didn’t you tell this to your ministry. And whatever charity work you did, why did you not follow the procedure. Why did you not tell the country that you helped Lalit Modi?” Mr. Gandhi questioned.