BJP rules out Raje’s resignation

Shedding its reticence, the BJP on Friday backed Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and ruled out her resignation or that of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on the Lalit Modi row even as Congress threatened to disrupt the Monsoon session of Parliament if they do not quit.

The BJP’s defence came on a day Ms. Raje, who is facing a storm over her secret witness statement supporting the former IPL boss’ immigration plea in Britain, cancelled her visit to Anandpur Sahib in Punjab where she would have met party president Amit Shah and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh.

The BJP had put up a muted defence of Ms. Swaraj when the controversy broke out on Sunday over her help to tainted Lalit Modi get British travel document saying she had acted on humanitarian considerations but offered no defence of Ms. Raje in the last two days.

Taking its attack to a new level, the Congress alleged a nexus between Lalit Modi, the Prime Minister, BJP president, Ms. Swaraj and Ms. Raje and said the only way for the government to “save” itself and the Parliament session is to make the two women leaders resign from their positions.

“We hope after Yoga Day and after ‘Lalitasan’, the Prime Minister will take some strong action,” party leader Jairam Ramesh told reporters adding “there is no other way”.

On Friday, the BJP fielded its spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi at a press briefing in the party headquarters where he rejected the demands for resignation of the two top leaders.

The party strategy may have been apparently devised after separate meetings between Home Minister Rajnath Singh with the Prime Minister and between Amit Shah and the Prime Minister on Thursday night.

To questions whether there will be action against Ms. Swaraj or Ms. Raje, he said, “The question is imaginary. There is no technical and legal base that you can say there is any point of impropriety.”

Mr. Trivedi said while the party’s top leadership has made its position clear on the issue of Ms. Swaraj, the validity of the documents produced against Ms. Raje is not yet verified.

He also rejected charges of corruption and impropriety on the part of the two leaders for links with Modi and termed as “laughable” the questions raised by the opposition without any basis.

“We have already made it clear that there is no corruption. There is no technical or legal definition of corruption or misappropriation is not evident. Opposition is using these issues to make a mountain out of a molehill for their own political gains on feeble grounds,” he said.

Asked why the party took so much time to come out in support of Ms. Raje, he said, the questions raised by the media were imaginary.

“Before making any demand, it should be seen whether that demand is substantive. Whether any wrong doing or corruption has taken place. To make such a demand in the absence of substantive evidence is not right and baseless,” he said.

He said Ms. Raje has clarified to the party top brass and the talks between the party and her are continuing. He, however, rejected any demand of any inquiry, internal or otherwise against Ms. Raje.

The party even went the extra distance to defend Ms. Raje’s son Dushyant Singh, MP, saying as far as his company’s dealings with Lalit Modi, they were above board. The Rajasthan BJP also put up a strong defence of Dushyant Singh.

Mr. Trivedi said it was not a new issue and facts have been mentioned in Dushyant Singh’s Income Tax returns as well his affidavit before the Lok Sabha polls.

Lalit Modi, who is wanted by the Enforcement Directorate in several cases including charges of money laundering, has been staying in London and has not come to India to face questioning in the cases.

>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,

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"


  • June 4 - First expose 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 | Jun 13, 2021 3:35:32 AM |

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