Jaitley defends Sushma in Lalit Modi visa row

Breaking his silence, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday came out in strong defence of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in 'Modigate' saying she acted “bona fide” and with “good intentions” and the entire government and party were one on the issue.

“All allegations levelled are baseless. Her (Swaraj) statement and that of the party President that whatever she did was with good intentions.

“She acted bona fide. The entire government and the party are one on the issue. There should be no doubt on this,” Mr. Jaitley said at a joint press conference with Home Minister Rajnath Singh held in the Home Ministry.

Mr. Jaitley’s defence of his cabinet colleague comes two days after party president Amit Shah and Rajnath Singh had asserted that Ms. Swaraj had acted on humanitarian considerations in the matter of helping former IPL boss Lalit Modi get travel documents from Britain.

Significantly, ahead of the press conference called to announce a flood relief package for Jammu and Kashmir, Mr. Jaitley, Mr. Singh and Ms. Swaraj met at Singh’s chamber in North Block and held discussions lasting an hour.

Speculation has been rife over the “silence” of Mr. Jaitley after a raging controversy broke out on Sunday over Ms. Swaraj’s help to Lalit Modi.

Asked whether Ms. Swaraj had acted on her own to help Mr. Modi, Mr. Jaitley said all ministers in charge of various departments were capable of taking decisions and in all decisions taken by the government there is a collective responsibility.

There have been insinuations by some party insiders suggesting that Jaitley could have a hand in Swaraj’s troubles. Party MP Kirti Azad had tweeted about a “snake in the grass” suggesting an insider job.

MS. Jaitley parried a question as to who was the “aasteen ka saanp” (snake in the grass) which Mr. Azad had tweeted about.

“Ask the next question,” was his repartee.

Asked whether the Enforcement Directorate would appeal against the Delhi High Court decision quashing the revocation of passport, Mr. Jaitley said “the matter of passport comes within the jurisdiction of passport authorities. They will decide.”

ED probe will continue

To another question whether the ED will continue its probe in the Lalit Modi matter, he said the ED has investigated several cases against the person concerned (Modi) and has issued a number of show cause notices as part of its quasi judicial functions.

“I understand that out of 16 investigations, in 15 of them show cause notices have been issued. This is the information I have. One is still under investigation,” he said.

Asked whether any blue-corner notice has been issued against Modi by the ED, the Finance Minister said initially joked saying “there is a confusion about shades of blue.”

“There is a procedure of a blue-corner notice which is issued by the Interpol. There is a procedure of a light blue corner notice which is issued by the directorate of revenue intelligence at the request of ED. That notice was issued in 2010 and that notice continues to be valid even today,” he said.

1 Shiv Sena on Tuesday said it was imperative for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to step in and order an investigation into the controversy. >Read more
2 Lalit 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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Printable version | Oct 18, 2021 11:18:47 PM |

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