The Congress seems to be in no mood to relent over former Indian Premier League (IPL) commissioner Lalit Modi’s travel papers controversy, involving External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje.
Addressing a press conference in the national capital on Wednesday, former finance minister P Chidambaram stepped up the attack on Swaraj, saying her conduct in the issue raises several questions.
This came even as sources in the government told that Lalit Modi’s passport would be revoked soon, conceding that all charges against him were of serious nature. Sources further said that the government would approach Supreme Court against High Court order on the basis of Enforcement Directorate notices.
Earlier, pointing that Lalit Modi’s passport was cancelled in 2010 as per a request from the Enforcement Directorate, Chidambaram asked the Narendra Modi government to answer as to who took the decision to issue a fresh passport.
Justifying all action taken against Lalit Modi during the regime of the previous UPA government, the Congress leader demanded that the letters exchanged between him and UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, must be released by the NDA government.
Poonam Chand Bhandari, an advocate, has claimed that former IPL chief Lalit Modi transferred crores of rupees to Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje’s son Dushyant Singh using a fictitious company.
“Vasundhara Raje’s son Dushyant Singh and his wife Nihalika created a firm by the name Nihant Heritage Hotel Ltd. Rs. 10 lakh was the official capital and they invested Rs. 1 lakh, the price of the share was Rs. 10 (per share). Lalit Modi opened a company called Ananda Hotel Private Limited, he gave Rs. 3 crore 80 lakhs unsecured loan to Nihant Hotel,” said Bhandari.
“After that, he bought shares costing Rs. 10 at Rs. 96,190 (per share). It means that he diverted almost nine crore rupees plus three crore eighty lakh rupees of black money. These companies are fictitious, you won’t find them at the registered addresses,” he added.
Bhandari further said that buying the shares at such inflated prices clearly indicate that black money is being transferred from one company to the other.
Sushma Swaraj reacted angrily to a tweet suggesting she took favours to get her daughter a seat in a medical college through the northeast quota. “My daughter is a barrister and Oxford graduate. What you say in absolutely false,” she replied to the tweet. The Twitter handle ‘Soch @pakoed’ had insinuated that “Sushma is no stranger to taking and giving favours! Her daughter studied through NorthEast quota in medical college.”
“Mr Lalit Modi is an Indian citizen, what steps are being taken by the government to prosecute him under Indian laws?” asked the Congress leader during the press conference.
When asked about Lalit Modi’s claim of the UPA government “hounding” him, Chidambaram said, “If UPA was hounding him, why did Finance Minister Arun Jaitley confirm that notices were issued against him in most of the cases?” He added that Modi’s charges against the UPA were “laughable” and did not deserve a response.
Targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the issue, the former UPA minister said, “I assume PM Modi takes responsibility of Sushma Swaraj’s action,” citing that Jaitley had on Tuesday said that the government was “collectively responsible” for the foreign minister’s action.
It is clear that this government brought ‘achche din’ only for legal offenders and people who stock black money, says AAP leader Ashish Khetan.
Congress’ Shobha Oza says party leader Rajeev Shukla has clarified that he hasn’t been in touch with Lalit Modi for the last three years. The clarification comes after Modi claimed that among several other leaders, Shukla too had helped him secure travel documents.
Sushma Swaraj is, meanwhile, attending a Union Cabinet meeting. The current row may figure in the meeting agenda, say sources.