NEW DELHI: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was on Sunday at the centre of a major row for helping scam-tainted former IPL chief Lalit Modi to obtain British travel documents.
On reports that he had helped a nephew of her husband, Swaraj Kaushal, to gain admission in a UK college, Sushma denied it completely.
“Regarding Jyotirmay Kaushal’s admission in a Law course at Sussex University, he secured admission through the normal admission process in 2013 one year before I became minister,” she said.
Ironically, the controversy comes just a few weeks after the end of Modi governm-ent’s first year — during which Sushma had been praised as being one of the top performers in the Cabinet. The Congress were quick to take advantage of the opportunity. “I believe that Sushma Swaraj should immediately resign,” said Congress leader Digvijay Singh.
There were similar calls for resignation from Bahujan Samaj Party’s Mayawati and Aam Aadmi Party. However, Samajwadi Party’s Ram Gopal Yadav surprisingly took a different line, saying there was no impropriety.
“If someone’s wife has cancer and needs to be taken for treatment & Sushmaji helped on humanitarian grounds, what’s wrong in that?” asked Yadav.
Sources said Sushma had spoken to Prime Minister Narendra Modi explaining the background of the case.
After a few hours, the BJP and RSS sent their heavyweights to defend Swaraj. “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 Modi.
BJP president Amit Shah also came out all guns blazing. “I cannot understand why such a big controversy is being created. This is not a matter of moral ground. This is not similar to (Bofors scandal accused Ottavio) Quattrocchi or (former Union Carbide Corporation CEO Warren) Anderson being allowed to escape India. Some people are trying to turn this into a political matter,” Shah said.
He said it was a “simple” matter of an “Indian national asking Sushmaji for her help so that his wife could undergo treatment”.