National

Sushma insists she sought no favours for Lalit Modi

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Monday denied in Parliament that she had made any request on behalf of the former IPL commissioner Lalit Modi, who is under investigation by the Enforcement Directorate.

Ms. Swaraj said over the din of protesting Opposition MPs in the Rajya Sabha that she had been waiting to set the record straight since the monsoon session began.

“The allegations against me are baseless,” she said. She had “never requested and never recommended to the British government to give travel documents to Lalit Modi.”

Ms. Swaraj’s words seemed at variance with her statements on a social networking site in June this year. On her Twitter site, Ms. Swaraj had written on June 14 that “taking a humanitarian view”, she had told the British High Commissioner to India James Bevan to “examine the request” from Lalit Modi for travel documents. At the time she had also disclosed that if the U.K. government chose to give Mr. Modi the travel papers, it “would not affect bilateral relations.” The previous UPA government had counselled against giving Mr. Modi the papers.

Criticising her comments, Congress MP Anand Sharma, who requested the Rajya Sabha chairperson not to allow Ms. Swaraj’s comments to be recorded as they had been made without proper notice, accused the Minister of behaving in a “clandestine manner.”

“Ms. Swaraj has contradicted her own tweets in what she said in Parliament. She had earlier admitted to speaking to the British High Commissioner who was on vacation at the time. They [U.K. government] hadn’t asked her for the statement about Mr. Lalit Modi. It was on her own volition that she made this call and it has been done in the most clandestine manner,” Mr. Sharma told The Hindu. Ms. Swaraj’s statement in Parliament followed those of several Cabinet colleagues in her defence. On Sunday, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said Ms. Swaraj had committed “no crime.”

“We asked in the Rajya Sabha for the list of crimes committed by Sushma Swaraj. No one could say a thing because there was no crime, not even impropriety.” However, the Congress MPs have said the Minister’s statement would not be accepted and they would continue to demand her resignation.

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Printable version | May 27, 2020 10:25:19 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/sushma-insists-she-sought-no-favours-for-lalit-modi/article7496724.ece

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