Three more VIPs helped Lalit Modi

BJP targets Cong. after ex-IPL czar tweets on Vadras.

Updated - April 03, 2016 05:45 am IST

Published - June 27, 2015 02:47 am IST - New Delhi:

The Bharatiya Janata Party bought more time on the growing demand for Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje’s resignation with fresh revelations on Friday in the Lalit Modi saga throwing up more names of prominent people who had deposed before a U.K. court or provided him legal opinion. The Congress pursued its demand for Ms. Raje and Sushma Swaraj’s resignation with a fresh set of charges.

However, the ruling party went on the offensive against the Congress after the former IPL commissioner tweeted about having “run into” Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s daughter Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and son-in-law Robert Vadra in London when the UPA was in power.

While the Congress and sources in Ms. Gandhi-Vadra’s office denied a meeting between the two, the Congress dubbed the BJP’s focus on the tweets as the ruling party’s diversionary tactics.

No interaction “There was no social interaction of any nature between them. Looking at each other in a restaurant is not a crime. Let the government answer allegations of quid pro quo,” Randeep Singh Surjewala, Congress chief spokesperson, said. The Congress alleged that Ms. Raje and Mr. Modi had been business partners because she owned 3,000 shares in a company run by her son and MP, Dushyant Singh.

TV channels reported late on Friday evening that two retired Supreme Court judges had given legal opinion and a prominent editor testified in the U.K. court in Mr. Modi’s favour. The former judges’ opinion was reportedly presented in the court to build a case for Mr. Modi’s immigration.

While Finance Minister Arun Jaitley held separate meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah, after his return from the U.S., sources in the BJP indicated the party was in no mood to remove Ms. Raje at this juncture. A party general secretary when asked about the demand for her ouster, said: “She is a very popular leader in the State.”

Raje never deposed in court, says BJP

“What the Congress is calling an affidavit is simply a proposed witness statement. She never deposed before the court and the matter ends there,” he said.

“What the Congress is calling an affidavit is simply a proposed witness statement. She [Vasundhara Raje] never deposed before the court and the matter ends there,” a BJP general secretary said.

A party insider revealed that not only does Ms. Raje enjoy support among the majority of BJP MLAs in Rajasthan, elections to municipal bodies are coming in a few weeks’ time. “At this juncture, there cannot be any changes.”

BJP seeks explanation

Mr. Lalit Modi’s tweets on the Congress president’s daughter and son-in-law were quickly picked up by the BJP. “Happy to meet the Gandhi family in London. I had run into Robert and Priyanka separately in a restaurant - they were with Timmy Sarna. He has my no. They can call me. Will tell them what I feel about them exactly,” Mr. Modi had tweeted late on Thursday night. The BJP was quick to seek an explanation from the Congress. “They should now tell everyone, what happened at the meeting,” a BJP leader said in New Delhi.

‘Diversionary tactics’

However, speaking to PTI in Bangalore, Union Law Minister Sadanand Gowda said it was Mr. Modi who was using diversionary tactics. “Today Lalit Modi has dropped names of Priyanka Gandhi and Robert Vadra. Tomorrow he may name somebody.

Day after tomorrow he may name the owner of the channel which is telecasting everything…So, he wants to create some confusion so that somewhere the cases against him are dropped, and somewhere some political activity should go on — so that he can rescue himself from the clutches of law,” Mr. Gowda told PTI.

>Arun JaitleyUnion Finance Minister, BJP

"All allegations levelled are baseless."

>P. ChidambaramFormer Finance Minister, Congress

"Ensure Modi returns to India for ED probe."

>Sushma SwarajExternal 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.

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"


  • - First exposé in the London-based 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.
  • 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.
  • - 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.
  • - 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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