Updated: June 15, 2015 6:50:36 pm
Escalating its attack, Congress today charged the entire BJP and the government with “aiding and abetting” Lalit Modi, a fugitive, with “tacit approval” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and demanded explanation from him.
The party also contended that a criminal case has been made out against External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in helping the former IPL boss get travel documents to go out of the UK and sought an FIR registered against her.
Addressing a press conference, Congress chief spokesman Randeep Surjewala posed nine questions to the Prime Minister to answer whether there was any quid pro quo in helping Modi, who has been accused salting away Rs 700 crores out of the country and was facing charges of money laundering, match-fixing and betting.
He said it should also be examined whether Swaraj was acting at the instance of the Prime Minister and whether he was “a party in helping a fugitive and money-launderer”.
“There are serious doubts about the role, knowledge and complicity of the Prime Minister. He has maintained a studied silence while he tweets on everything everyday,” Surjewala said.
“Incontrovertible facts, documents and details of the ‘Modigate’emerging since yesterday clearly reflect active complicity of not only the External Affairs Minister but also point towards the entire BJP government aiding and abetting a fugitive of Indian law with tacit approval of the Prime Minister,” he said.
The Congress spokesperson said Lalit Modi was directly in touch with Swaraj, who admits to have acquaintance with him and speaking to him on phone on a number of occasions.
Making a video presentation at the AICC briefing, the party displayed three photographs of Lalit Modi with the Prime Minister and BJP chief Amit Shah before the two leaders assumed their present offices to make a point about his association with them.
However, the party said it was not demanding the Prime Minister’s resignation, saying all the questions raised by it sshould be first examined. If allegations are proved, then he has no moral right to continue, he said, adding then he will have to resign.
He was in London. After his wife’s surgery, he came back to London. What is it that I changed ?
— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) June 14, 2015
“This has happened because Lalit Modi… also is a ‘Modi’. Hence, the government of India is helping him. I strongly condemn it. I condemn BJP’s double standards.
“The government is jointly responsible for this. Swaraj should resign immediately. Since the government, too, is responsible for this, the Prime Minister should apologise to the nation,” said Congress leader Pramod Tiwari.
In a press conference in the national capital, Congress leader Randeep Surjewala said that Sushma Swaraj’s help to Lalit Modi points to entire BJP govt in aiding a fugitive perhaps with tacit approval of PM.
Surjewala added that Narendra Modi should explain his conduct in Modigate and answer questions whether he was a party to help a “money launderer”.
According to British media, which quoted leaked emails, Swaraj’s name was cited to put pressure on UK’s top immigration official to grant British travel papers to Lalit Modi, who is accused of misappropriation of funds in the T20 cricket tournament.
CPI (M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury demanded that the Prime Minister tell Parliament and the nation how the matter is going to be addressed. “First of all, there are very serious charges raised against the External Affairs Minister. But the Prime Minister has been quiet and silent.
“We are asking the Prime Minister to tell us how this is going to be addressed… So, in this situation, the Prime Minister, whose prerogative it is to keep whomever he wishes in the Council (of Ministers), has to answer this,” Yechury told reporters.
Trinamool Congress leader Saugata Roy said Swaraj should not have had intervened in the matter and now she must own up to having done something “improper” in her capacity as a minister. The BJP though continued to support Swaraj with Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan saying she had helped Lalit Modi on “humanitarian grounds”.
“Sushma Swaraj’s life is filled with transparency and honesty. Her honesty is beyond doubt. Whatever she did, she did it on humanitarian grounds. If someone is helped abiding by rules and regulations, then where is the crime in that?” he asked.
Noted lawyer Prashant Bhushan said that a minister helping the ex-IPL Commissioner was “completely wrong”. He demanded a strong conflict of interest law to deal with such cases. “Instead, BJP is weakening the prevention of corruption Act by removing even criminal misconduct from it. This shows that the Narendra Modi government is not committed to fighting corruption,” Bhushan said.
“In my view, she should resign, but that is for the BJP people to decide,” added Bhushan.
Swaraj is at the centre of a major row over helping Lalit Modi to obtain British travel documents but found strong support from the government and the BJP, which have rejected opposition demands for her resignation over alleged “impropriety”.
The genesis of the controversy was disclosure of emails showing that she had spoken to Indian-origin British MP Keith Vaz and its High Commissioner here, James Bevan, favouring the grant of travel documents to Lalit Modi to go to Portugal, purportedly for his wife’s cancer treatment in June last year.
Modi, who is wanted in India, has made London his home since 2010 to avoid a probe into alleged foreign exchange regulation violations in the T20 cricket tournament held in South Africa in 2009. The previous UPA government had revoked his passport and pressed for his extradition. Bringing Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the line of fire, senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh too alleged “achhe din” have arrived or those accused in criminal cases–from Amit Shah, to Ramdev, to Lalit Modi. “ACHHE DIN for all accused of murder false encounter money laundering FEMA from Amit Shah to Ramdev to Lalit Modi. PM silent. ?”, the Congress General Secretary said in a series of tweets.
ACHHE DIN for all accused of murder false encounter money laundering FEMA from Amit Shah to Ramdev to Lalit Modi. PM silent. मौंन स्वीकृति !
— digvijaya singh (@digvijaya_28) June 15, 2015
Singh appealed to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to resign in the wake of her intervention to “help a fugitive”.
“I have greatest regard for Sushmaji. Never expected her to intervene to help a fugitive evading Look Out Notice when he is holidaying !”
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