Facing criticism for expediting the travel documents of former IPL chairman Lalit Modi, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said she only helped a man to sign consent papers for the surgery of his cancer-struck wife.
“What benefit did I pass on to Lalit Modi – that he could sign consent papers for surgery of his wife suffering from Cancer ?” tweeted Swaraj after growing demand for her resignation over the issue.
What benefit did I pass on to Lalit Modi – that he could sign consent papers for surgery of his wife suffering from Cancer ?
— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) June 14, 2015
Rejecting opposition demands for Swaraj’s resignation, the government, the BJP as well as RSS on Sunday defended her, asserting that she had done no wrong and only acted on “humanitarian” grounds.
“We want to make it clear that whatever she has done is right. We justify it and the government completely stands by her,” Home Minister Rajnath Singh said after meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the controversy.
Swaraj also reportedly talked to the Prime Minister.
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Singh’s comment came after reports that Sushma had written to British lawmaker Keith Vaz to recommend travel documents for Lalit Modi, scam-tainted former IPL commissioner, for visiting Portugal. Swaraj said she had written to Vaz on “humanitarian grounds” after Lalit Modi said his wife was ill.
The Home Minister said Swaraj told Vaz to do only what was “allowed” as per the rules and regulations of the UK.
He said “any person with humanitarian approach” should do the same as Lalit Modi had said that his wife was suffering from cancer and he needed travel documents to visit her in Portugal.
When referred to opposition demands for her resignation, the Home Minister said, “I don’t agree”.
BJP chief Amit Shah also strongly defended Swaraj, saying she had acted in a “humanitarian” manner and “no big moral” issue was involved.
Decrying “uproar” over the issue, he said attempts to gain “political mileage will not yield any results” as he attacked opposition Congress by referring to the Bofors scam and Union Carbide controversies.
“Sushmaji has herself clarified. The matter is clear. Lalit Modi had said his wife is suffering from cancer and sought help. She (Swaraj) said if British rules permit, then he should be helped. There is no need for any uproar. There is no issue of moral grounds,” Shah said, virtually rejecting opposition demands for her resignation.
He said it was an Indian helping an Indian.
Hitting back at Congress, the BJP chief said this matter as different from making Bofors scam accused Ottavio Quattrocchi “flee” from India or allowing Union Carbide chief Warren Anderson to “leave” the country.
RSS leader Indresh Kumar also defended Swaraj, saying whatever she might have done would have been guided by her “humane” nature and “nationalistic” spirit.
“Sushmaji is full of nationalism and humane nature. Whatever she might have done, would be guided by nationalism and humane nature,” he said.
However, Congress party demanded that External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj hand in her resignation after she admitted her role in the expediting of former Indian Premier League (IPL) chairman Lalit Modi’s travel papers to the United Kingdom, despite the red alert issued by the government.
“It is very unfortunate that a Foreign Minister of the country is helping an ED offender. Lalit Modi is close to a number of BJP leaders, including the Chief Minister of Rajasthan… The External Affairs Minister helping him to go out of the country to hoodwink the administration, and [Prime Minister] Modi is silent on the matter,” Congress leader Shakeel Ahmed said.