Indian minister Sushma Swaraj in hot water over helping ex-IPL chief leave India

Indian minister Sushma Swaraj in hot water over helping ex-IPL chief leave India

Swaraj must resign, demands Congress


Published: Sun 14 Jun 2015, 5:55 PM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 2:57 PM

New Delhi - External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Sunday said she helped former IPL chief Lalit Modi to leave India on 'humanitarian grounds' to meet his cancer-afflicted wife in 2013 - before she became a minister.

Sushma Swaraj, in a series of tweets, said she helped Modi after he said his wife was suffering from cancer and was to undergo surgery in Portugal.

The clarification came as a British newspaper said that Keith Vaz, one of Britain's longest-serving Indian-origin MPs, used her name to pressure Britain's top immigration official to grant travel papers to Modi.

'...Lalit Modi spoke to me that his wife was suffering from cancer and her surgery was fixed for Aug 4 in Portugal. He told me that he had to be present in the Hospital to sign the consent papers,' Sushma Swaraj tweeted.

'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 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', said the minister.

'Keith Vaz also spoke to me and I told him precisely what I told the British High Commissioner,' she said.

Sushma Swaraj said she 'genuinely believe that in a situation such as this, giving emergency travel documents to an Indian citizen cannot and should not spoil relations between the two countries'.

She added few days after that the Delhi High Court quashed an order by Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA), which was then in power, to impound Modi's passport.

'I may also state that only a few days later, Delhi High Court quashed UPA Government's order impounding Lalit Modi's passport on the ground that the said order was unconstitutional being violative of fundamental rights and he got his passport back,' she said.

The minister added that the process took place in 2013, a year before she became a minister.

According to the Sunday Times, Vaz personally wrote to Sarah Rapson, the director general of UK visas and immigration, in an effort to expedite Modi's case.

Sushma Swaraj must resign: Congress

In the wake of allegations that External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj helped former IPL chief Lalit Modi in leaving India, the Congress on Sunday called for her resignation.

'Sushma Swaraj must resign on moral grounds,' Congress leader Digvijaya Singh said.

'The minister backed a person like Lalit Modi, against whom a lookout notice was there ... All this is very serious. The external affairs minister is supporting a person who is on the run,' Digvijaya Singh said.

He added that Prime Minister Narendra Modi should give clarification on the issue.

Addressing a press conference later, Congress spokesman Randeep Surjewala questioned the reasons which forced Sushma Swaraj to help Lalit Modi, saying it exposed a clear nexus between a money launderer and match fixer, Lalit Modi, with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

'Has a new rule been formed for helping an absconder? Will he be helped in future also? This is anti-national,' he said.

'I want to ask the prime minister, home minister and (BJP President) Amit Shah, if tomorrow Dawood wants help on humanitarian grounds, will they help,' he wondered.

Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati said the issue would be raised in parliament when it meets next.

'We want this matter probed... We will raise it in parliament,' Mayawati said.

The external affairs minister, meanwhile, took to twitter to clarify and said she helped Lalit Modi to go out of India on 'humanitarian ground' to meet his cancer-afflicted wife who was to undergo surgery in 2013. 

She said the incident took place before she became a minister.

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