Even though the opposition parties slammed External Affairs MinisterSushma Swaraj and demanded her resignation for ‘helping’ scam-tainted former IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi in procuring travel documents in the UK, Bhartiya Janata Party President Amit Shah on Sunday defended Swaraj saying she did no wrong and no moral issue was involved.
Speaking to news agency ANI, Amit Shah said, “Sushma Ji has given her clarification on Twitter. The issue is very clear. An Indian had asked asked help for his wife’s treatment, and following that Sushma ji spoke to British MP asking help, if Britain rules permit.”
He further added, “I don’t feel there is any need to create an uproar. It is not an issue like giving Anderson a permission to travel outside the country after Bhopal tragedy.”
After meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said, “What Sushma Swaraj did was ‘right’ and ‘I justify it’. Swaraj’s ‘help’ to Lalit Modi in procuring travel documents in the UK was on ‘humanitarian grounds.”
Swaraj on Sunday admitted that she helped expedite the travel documents of ex-BCCI vice president and former Indian Premier League chairman Lalit Modi, by writing to senior Labour MP Keith Vaz.
According to Sunday Times, Vaz personally wrote to Sarah Rapson, the director- general of UK visas and immigration, in an effort to expedite the case of Lalit Modi.
The report said that at the time, Vaz was chairman of the powerful Commons home affairs select committee in which role he was required to scrutinise and hold to account the work of Rapson and her department.
Responding to the report on Sunday morning, Sushma Swaraj took it to twitter saying “She took a humanitarian view of Modi’s case since his wife was suffering from cancer.”
In a series of tweet, she further added, “Sometime in July 2014 Lalit Modi spoke to me that his wife was suffering from Cancer and her surgery was fixed for 4th August in Portugal. He (Lalit Modi) told me that he had to be present in the Hospital to sign the consent papers. He informed me that he had applied for travel documents in London and UK Government was prepared to give him the travel documents. However, they were restrained by a UPA Government communication that this will spoil Indo-UK relations.”
She further added, “Taking a humanitarian view, I conveyed to the British High Commissioner that British Government should examine the request of Lalit Modi as per British rules and regulations. If the British Government chooses to give travel documents to Lalit Modi, – that will not spoil our bilateral relations.”
“I did not expect that Foreign Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj ji would help Lalit Modi, against whom government has issued a look-out notice, procure travel documents…I appeal to Sushma Swaraj ji to immediately resign on moral ground,” senior Congressleader Digvijay Singh said.
Congress leader Randeep Surjewala said “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.”