National

BJP, Congress spar over Lalit Modi tweets

BJP demanded that Congress president Sonia Gandhi make a statement on the matter.

On the back foot in the row over its leaders’ purported help to Lalit Modi, the BJP on Friday alleged links between the former IPL boss and the Gandhi family as it pointed to claims by him of “running into” Priyanka Gandhi in London.

The BJP, which charged that it was these links which had “prevented” Modi’s extradition under UPA rule, demanded that Congress president Sonia Gandhi make a statement on the matter.

That invited a sharp attack from the opposition, which said that Lalit Modi’s tweets were a case of “ chhota Modi” helping “ bada Modi” (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) through “lies”.

Seeking to turn the tables on Congress, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said, “Today’s big revelation is the fact that Lalit Modi had met the Gandhi family. Only yesterday he met Priyanka Gandhi and Robert Vadra. Why have they met him?

“Let me categorically put today that the issue is about Lalit Modi and Gandhi family... BJP demands Sonia Gandhi make a statement why the Gandhi family has been in touch with Lalit Modi all these years.

Mr. Patra further claimed that the then Finance Minister P. Chidambaram “did not want Lalit Modi’s extradition from Britain despite the fact that UK was ready for extradition”.

“Who was preventing them? The Gandhi family,” he alleged. “The matter starts and ends at the door of 10, Janpath.”

But lashing out at BJP over the charges, Congress said that running into anybody in a restaurant was not a crime and that Lalit Modi was working at the behest of BJP to divert attention to “non-issues”.

Congress’s chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said that BJP should tell its “black money stooges to not rely on red-herrings” to divert attention from the issue.

The government must answer to the people about the allegations against External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, he added.

“I can say with full responsibility that neither Priyanka Gandhi nor Robert Vadra ever interacted with Lalit Modi socially. If you see somebody in a restaurant, it is not a crime. ‘ Chhota Modi’ is helping ‘ bada Modi’ with lies.

“It is a diversionary tactic of BJP to turn the attention towards non-issues. The government should speak about real issues and not hide behind Lalit Modi,” Mr. Surjewala told reporters.

Lalit Modi had last night tweeted, “Happy to meet the Gandhi family... in London. I had run into Robert and Priyanka separately”.









Reiterating his party’s demand for the sacking of Ms. Swaraj and Ms. Raje, Mr. Surjewala said they had helped a fugitive accused of “fraud of gigantic proportions”.



>Arun Jaitley
Union Finance Minister, BJP

"All allegations levelled are baseless."

>P. Chidambaram
Former Finance Minister, Congress

"Ensure Modi returns to India for ED probe."

>Sushma Swaraj
External Affairs Minister, BJP

Helped Lalit Modi after taking a humanitarian view.

>Sitaram Yechury
General Secretary,
CPI-M

Intervention of Sushma Swaraj is unacceptable

Sushma Swaraj and Keith Vaz are no longer the only ones in the line of fire:

  • » Documents supplied by Lalit Modi's lawyer on Monday revealed that >Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje had in August 2011 backed his immigration application on condition it would not be made known to Indian authorities.
  • » On Wednesday Sushma Swaraj was tweeting in response to allegation that her daughter >Bansuri Swaraj got admission to medical school the northeast quota.
  • » > Media baron Rupert Murdoch found his name figure in the controversy. In a TV interview, Mr. Modi said Mr. Murdoch was upset with him.

Hints at fissures in the BJP were made by party member Kirti Azad, who pointed to an in-house conspiracy targeting Sushma:

  • » In his tweets, >Mr. Azad referred to a party insider having a role to play in leaking information about the Minister's recommendation and her family's association with Mr. Modi. Mr. Azad claimed that it was a 'snake in the grass' and a media personality who conspired against Ms. Swaraj.

Armed now with enough ammunition, the opposition trained its guns on the Centre:

  • » Sushma should be sacked, said >Rahul Gandhi: "Lalit Modi is the symbol of black money stashed outside and Sushma Swaraj is protecting him"

Timeline

  • June 4 - First exposé in the London-based Sunday Times on Lalit Modi controversy
    It alleged that senior Labour British parliamentarian of Indian origin Keith Vaz used his influential position as chair of the House of Commons home affairs select committee to help Mr. Modi get his papers to stay in the UK as a temporary resident, despite his position as a fugitive from the law in India.
  • June 7 Mr. Vaz, who did not make any public or media statement, in a post on his website said his email was hacked and confidential information accessed.
    In another post he claims that when he took over there was a passport crisis with 500,000 pending cases in the Home department, which he was able to bring down considerably in five years.
  • June 11 - In a follow up to the first story the next week the name of Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj comes in as yet another senior politician who is making a case for Lalit Modi.
    Leaked correspondence shows that Mr. Vaz invoked the names of both Ms. Swaraj and Sir James Bevan, British High Commissioner to India as Mr. Modi’s friends, in order to strengthen his case with the immigration authorities.
  • June 16 - In a TV interview Mr. Modi alleges that media baron Rupert Murdoch, who owns the Times and Sunday Times has masterminded the Sunday Times story.
    He claims that Mr. Murdoch was miffed over a “no exit” clause in the Champions League, and is therefore getting his back.


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Printable version | May 25, 2020 8:24:57 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/lalit-modi-visa-controversy-bharatiya-janata-party-bjp-congress-spar-over-lalit-modi-tweets/article7357807.ece

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