Gargi Parsai in The Hindu, June 19, 2015
Resignation of Vasundhara Raje, Sushma Swaraj sought
As the Opposition questioned the probity claims of the Narendra Modi government over “Lalitgate” and the Bharatiya Janata Party maintained silence, the Rajasthan unit of the party came out in support of Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje.
State Health Minister Rajendra Rathore called a press conference to announce the support of the party, the legislature and the government for Ms. Raje over her alleged role on the immigration plea of former tainted IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi.
The Congress, the CPI(M) and the CPI demanded the resignations of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Ms. Raje. Questioning the Prime Minister’s “silence”, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury sought a probe. D. Raja of the CPI said the two should be “sacked” if they do not quit. The Congress trained its guns on Mr. Narendra Modi over his “silence” and asked whether he had information on the help given to Lalit Modi to get U.K. travel documents.
Senior Congress leader Girija Vyas told The Hindu that not only did Ms. Raje help Mr. Modi, she also sought secrecy of the transaction. BJP patriarch L.K. Advani’s fears of the possibility of another Emergency came in handy for the Opposition which said the veteran leader had expressed “no confidence” in Mr. Modi.
All eyes are now turned to a public meeting on Friday in Ropar (Punjab) to observe the 350th foundation day of Anandpur Saheb to which Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has invited all BJP Chief Ministers, including Vasundhara Raje. The meeting is to be inaugurated by Home Minister Rajnath Singh and will be attended among others by BJP President Amit Shah.
Although Ms. Raje spoke to Mr. Shah on Wednesday about the controversy, the Anandpur Saheb function — if she attends — will afford her an opportunity to personally explain the position. On her part, the Chief Minister said that neither had she sought an appointment with BJP President nor had any been denied. Sources in the BJP explained the party’s silence saying that the matters of the States are normally left to the State units.
“We do not have a high command culture as in the Congress to summon a Chief Minister,” said a party functionary adding that no documentary evidence had come forth so far.
Union Finance Minister, BJP
"All allegations levelled are baseless."
Former Finance Minister, Congress
"Ensure Modi returns to India for ED probe."
External Affairs Minister, BJP
Helped Lalit Modi after taking a humanitarian view.
Intervention of Sushma Swaraj is unacceptable
Sitaram Yechury General Secretary,CPI-M
Sushma Swaraj and Keith Vaz are no longer the only ones in the line of fire:
- » Documents supplied by Lalit Modi's lawyer on Monday revealed that Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje had in August 2011 backed his immigration application on condition it would not be made known to Indian authorities.
- » On Wednesday Sushma Swaraj was tweeting in response to allegation that her daughter Bansuri Swaraj got admission to medical school the northeast quota.
- » Media baron Rupert Murdoch found his name figure in the controversy. In a TV interview, Mr. Modi said Mr. Murdoch was upset with him. Mr. Modi was then an influential figure in the BCCI.
Hints at fissures in the BJP were made by party member Kirti Azad, who pointed to an in-house conspiracy targeting Sushma:
- » In his tweets, Mr. Azad referred to a party insider having a role to play in leaking information about the Minister's recommendation and her family's association with Mr. Modi. Mr. Azad claimed that it was a 'snake in the grass' and a media personality who are conspiring against Ms. Swaraj.
Armed now with enough ammunition, the opposition trained its guns on the Centre:
- » Former Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said Lalit Modi must be brought back to India to face a probe by the enforcement directorate on the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) violations.
- » Sushma should be sacked, said Rahul Gandhi: "Lalit Modi is the symbol of black money stashed outside and Sushma Swaraj is protecting him"
- »AAP leader Kumar Vishwas: alleged PMO's involvement in Swaraj row
June 4 – First expose in the London-based Sunday Times on Lalit Modi controversy.
It alleged that senior Labour British parliamentarian of Indian origin Keith Vaz used his influential position as chair of the House of Commons home affairs select committee to help Mr. Modi get his papers to stay in the UK as a temporary resident, despite his position as a fugitive from the law in India.
June 7 Mr. Vaz, who did not make any media statement, in a post on his website said his email was hacked and confidential information accessed.
In another post he claims that when he took over there was a passport crisis with 500,000 pending cases in the Home department, which he was able to bring down considerably in five years.
June 11 – In a follow up to the first story the next week the name of Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj comes in as yet another senior politician who is making a case for Lalit Modi.
Leaked correspondence shows that Mr. Vaz invoked the names of both Ms. Swaraj and Sir James Bevan, British High Commissioner to India as Mr. Modi’s friends, in order to strengthen his case with the immigration authorities.
June 16 – In a TV interview Mr. Modi alleges that media baron Rupert Murdoch, who owns the Times and Sunday Times has masterminded the Sunday Times story.
He claims that Mr. Murdoch was miffed over a “no exit” clause in the Champions League, and is therefore getting his back.