NEW DELHI: With the Congress demanding the resignation of Sushma Swaraj for ‘helping’ Lalit Modi in obtaining travel documents, the External Affairs minister made an impassioned defence of her move. She argued that she had helped the cancer-stricken wife of former IPL chairman.
Swaraj said she had not made any request, recommendation for giving travel documents to Lalit Modi. “I challenge anyone accusing me to produce a document, email, a letter or even chit to say that I had written (to UK authorities) that travel documents be given to Lalit Modi,” Swaraj said while making her statement in the Lok Sabha.
Swaraj could put across her point as the key opposition parties after the suspension of 25 Congress MPs have been boycotting the session. She however added that she was not taking advantage of absence of opposition members or trying to pre-empt or scuttle the discussion on the issue but just putting across her view point as she had been under attack for the last two months.
The minister said the question before her was that would she tell the UK authorities that if they gave documents to Lalit Modi on humanitarian grounds the relations with India would be affected.
“I ask you (Speaker) what would you have done. I say if Sonia (Gandhi) ji was in my place what would have she done. Would she left her (Lalit Modi’s wife) to die. This is a big case of humanitarianism where lalit Modi has not been helped but his wife, against whom there is no case.”
“She is suffering from cancer for the last 17 years. Her cancer reoccurred 10 time. She was going for treatment and she wanted her husband to be her side. This was the reason that I said if British government gave him travel documents, it won’t impact relations with india,” Swaraj.
Known for her oratorical skills, the external affairs minister remarked, “Is helping a woman in this way a crime. If it is so then I accept my crime standing here in front of the country. So, whatever punishment this house wants to give me I am ready.”
Swaraj quoted witness statement given by Lalit Modi’s wife before UK authorities and hospital director who said her husband was required by her side.
Earlier during her speech she quoted poet Tulsidas to say it maybe in fact her “stars” which were leading her to undergo all this severe criticism even from colleagues(opposition MPs), who otherwise were always very cordial with her. "Life and death, fame and dishonour are in the hands of divnity," minister said translating the Sanskrit shaloka of Tulsidas
She said this star of infamy would vanish and she be able to win back cordiality from her colleagues.
"People are asking how I did it, why I did it but first tell me what did I do? Did I offer him (Lalit Modi) any pecuniary benefits? Did I help him escape from India? Did I help him get travel documents? I left it to the UK government... The message I gave to them was purely on humanitarian ground," she said referring to all the allegations against her.
She even quoted a media report to say even the UK Home Department had said travel documents for Lalit Modi was given according to rules.
However, the Congress leader Anand Sharma took potshots at her statement saying it was "tearjerker" but full of many holes. The BJP minister Nirmala Sitharaman hit back saying the Congress should have been inside the house to raise issues and Swaraj would have answered.