Updated: June 15, 2015 5:38:14 pm
Congress Party activists staged protests outside External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s residence in Central Delhi on Monday, and repeatedly demanded her resignation over her role in facilitating the clearance of travel documents for former IPL chief Lalit Modi.
They said Swaraj owed an explanation to the country regarding her alleged role in the expedition of former Indian Premier League (IPL) chairman Lalit Modi’s travel papers from the United Kingdom to Portugal despite the red alert issued by the government.
Swaraj had on Sunday said she had taken a humanitarian view of Lalit Modi’s case since his wife was suffering from cancer.
She further said that British MP Keith Vaz had spoken to her on the same, adding she believes that giving an Indian citizen ’emergency travel documents’ cannot spoil relations between India and the UK.
Vaz, who is facing an inquiry in the UK over the role he played in Modi receiving his travel papers, said that he had checked with the Indian Government before taking any action and added that he had received a ‘no objection’ from New Delhi.
Earlier in the day Congress national spokesperson P L Punia said, “There are circumstances which establish contact between Sushma Swaraj and Lalit Modi. As a quid pro quo, Sushma Swaraj has done favour to a tainted person who is accused of Rs 700 crore money laundering, tax evasion and several other charges.
“There is a notice which has been issued against him. But he provided special favours. Within 24 hours, Modi was given total clearance to travel abroad. There is official position that continues to be same. But unofficially, she provided him help.”
Terming Swaraj’s claim of helping Modi on “humanitarian” grounds as “totally bogus” and one not standing scrutiny of facts, Punia told reporters here what has been said on behalf of the NDA government and BJP Chief Amit Shah in the Minister’s defence is “a lame excuse”.
“According to Portuguese law, it is not required for husband to sign papers before his wife goes under surgery. There was a circular from Government of India asking British Government not to allow him travel abroad. So, what the minister is saying is very weird,” he said.
The Congress leader said that the Swaraj family has had “long association” with Modi and on the basis of favours it received from Modi, he was helped, Punia said.
“Our stand is very clear, whether it was during UPA government’s time, whether it is now that in national interest Lalit Modi should be taken to task, law must take its course, he should be brought back to India. Trial should be conducted here,” he said.
[with inputs from PTI]
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