Times of India Editorial, June 30, 2015,
(Note: Wise councils of elders are to be taken seriously by all sensible people. Citizens expect that from their leaders for the sake of the common weal When leaders areaccused of serious moral and ethical misconduct, parties which boast of probity in public life should be the first to make such leaders resign to stay out of power until their names are cleared. This obligation becomes doubly pressing when accusations come from respected leaders in one’s own party. Ignoring them can only be ugly exhibition of arrogance driven by pride. And pride goes before a fall. james kottoor, editor)
By recalling how he resigned as an MP after his name had cropped up in the 1990s hawala scam senior BJP leader L K Advani sent a broad hint to his party on how it should deal with the Lalit Modi crisis. Even as a rising opposition clamour on the issue has led to studied silence and stonewalling on the government’s part, RSS ideologue Govindacharya has directly called on foreign minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje to quit.
Political reasons for not asking Swaraj, Raje or education minister Smriti Irani to resign on moral grounds — till they can clear their names on serious ethical impropriety charges as Advani had done before — are many. Swaraj has ably supported Prime Minister Narendra Modi in pursuit of a dynamic and transformative foreign policy. Raje has delivered sweeping electoral victories for BJP in Rajasthan. However, this is the very kind of political reasoning on which UPA had run aground earlier. There are equally strong counterarguments on why politics should not override ethics.
By intervening unilaterally to help Lalit Modi — who is evading questioning by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on corruption and money laundering charges — procure international travel papers from the UK government, Swaraj bypassed due process and raised grave conflict of interest issues as both her daughter and husband worked as legal counsel for the disgraced cricket administrator. ED is also looking at a dodgy Rs 11 crore investment made by one of Lalit Modi’s firms into another owned by Raje’s son Dushyant Singh — which includes shares worth Rs 10 being bought for a whopping Rs 96,200 each — even as Raje backed an immigration plea by Modi. Propriety demands that Raje step down till ED completes its probe.
Likewise there is a court case against Irani for furnishing wrong information in her poll affidavits regarding her educational qualifications. While she may be let off on a technicality, the very fact of an education minister fudging educational degrees is unconscionable and she should be asked to step down if this is proved. Before the growing opposition campaign on these issues can coalesce, BJP’s interests are best served by seizing the moral high ground on them. Else the monsoon session of Parliament faces a washout and Govindacharya’s warning — that Lalitgate will become BJP’s equivalent of Bofors by tarnishing its image for a long time to come — could well prove prescient.