NEW DELHI: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday said that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government stands with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who took a humanitarian approach and helped former IPL chairman Lalit Modi receive travel documents despite the red corner notice against him still in effect.
What Sushma Swaraj did was "right" and "I justify it", says Home Minister Rajnath Singh after meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Sushma Swaraj's "help" to former IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi in procuring travel documents in the UK was on 'humanitarian grounds": Home Minister Rajnath Singh.
“Sushma ji has done the right thing. A person with humanitarian perspective should take the same steps. She had only told the British High Commissioner that if the United Kingdom’s rules allowed him to help [Lalit Modi] then India would raise no objections. We justify her actions and the government is completely with her on her stand,” Singh told ANI.
Swaraj had earlier in the day said that 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.
BJP chief Amit Shah defended Sushma Swaraj, says she did no wrong and no moral issue was involved.
Swaraj admitted helping Lalit Modi through a series of tweets on Twitter earlier today:
Sometime in July 2014 Lalit Modi spoke to me that his wife was suffering from Cancer and her surgery was fixed for 4th Aug in Portugal.— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) June 14, 2015
He told me that he had to be present in the Hospital to sign the consent papers.— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) June 14, 2015
Congress demands Swaraj's resignation:
Congress on the other hand intensified its demand for Swaraj's resignation. Congress leader Randeep Surjewala on Sunday said that External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s acknowledgement of the role played by her office in helping former IPL chairman Lalit Modi receiving the travel documents sounds like a case of ‘Modi helping Modi’, adding that her declaration makes her position ‘untenable’.
“This is extremely serious, grave in nature and reflects gross impropriety on the part of the External Affairs Minister. Allegations that Sushma Swaraj and UK MP Keith Vaz helped Lalit Modi, against whom a red corner notice was issued by the Enforcement Directorate, are indeed shocking. If all these allegations are correct, as the emails [between Modi and Vaz], as now admitted by Sushma Swaraj, it makes her position completely untenable,” Surjewala told ANI.
“She needs to resign in the highest of moral standards, as also to uphold a fair investigation against her. It also raises certain pertinent questions. Why was the Government of India and its External Affairs Ministry helping Modi, who is an ED accused and against whom a red corner notice has been issued? Was [Prime Minister] Modi helping Modi?” he added.
Surjewala also raised the question as to why Modi had been helped in receiving the requisite papers.
“Was Sushma Swaraj acting at the behest of the Prime Minister? Was she acting on her own, without consent of the Prime Minister? Why was an accused like Lalit Modi helped? I think this entire matter needs explanation,” he said.
The Congress leader further noted that former minister Shashi Tharoor had resigned from his position when his name cropped up during an investigation into the IPL.
Mayawati Hints Raising Swaraj Issue in Parliament:
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati on Sunday hinted that her party would raise the ongoing row over External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj helping former Indian Premier League (IPL) chairman Lalit Modi with his travel documents in the upcoming session of Parliament and said that a through probe must be done to get to the truth of the matter.
“I don’t have complete information about this issue. This is a matter of thorough investigation. When the report will come and when the Parliament session will resume, this issue will be taken up there as well,” Mayawati told the media here.
“We would like the truth to come out following the investigation and it will be better to come to any conclusion on this matter after the investigation (is complete),” she added.
(With inputs from PTI/ANI)