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Lalit’s job offer to Swaraj Kaushal sparks row

Our Bureau |Agencies | | Updated on: Dec 06, 2021
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BL02_POL_NEW-SUSH

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Cong, BJP battle afresh as ex IPL chief alleges Varun offered to facilitate deal with Sonia

With reports coming out that former IPL chief Lalit Modi had offered a director post in one of his companies to Swaraj Kaushal, husband of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, the Opposition has stepped up its attack against the Narendra Modi government.

Also, Lalit Modi’s claims that BJP leader Varun Gandhi had made him an offer to “settle” all matters with Sonia Gandhi triggered a war of words between the BJP and the Congress, with the former seeking an explanation from Sonia and the latter dismissing the charges as a “ploy” to divert attention.

Comparing Lalit Modi with terrorist Maulana Masood Azhar, who was released by the erstwhile NDA government during the Kandahar crisis, the Congress said the BJP is helping law-breakers, terrorists and fugitives on “humanitarian” grounds.

Kaushal, however, said that he did not accept the invitation. “I have been a lawyer for Lalit Modi for over 20 years... I did not given my consent to be the director. The request was withdrawn,” he told a news channel.

Release of letters The Congress’s chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said the Centre should release the letters written by former Finance Minister P Chidambaram to the UK’s Chancellor of Exchequer George Osburn, and the proceedings of their meetings, on the cases against Lalit Modi.

The party also urged the Prime Minister to release the details of the meetings between Sushma Swaraj and British envoy to India James Ovens. Surjewala added that Swaraj should make a full disclosure as to how many times she spoke to Lalit Modi and how many times she met him.

“Will the Prime Minister disclose whether Lalit Modi, an Indian fugitive, after having run away from India, had in fact, in the current year, made a job offer to a family member of one of his senior ministers?” he asked. He further urged Modi to explain the nature of the job offered by Lalit Modi to the said person.

Senior Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said the Modi government has abdicated raj dharma in favour of ‘Sushma dharma ’, ‘Raje dharma ’ and ‘Lalit dharma ’. The Prime Minister is in permanent ‘ maun yog ’, oblivious to constitutional proprieties, conflict of interest, quid pro quo and the blatant misuse of office, he added.

“Why was Indian fugitive Lalit Modi making a job offer appointing Swaraj Kaushal as director in his own place in the first instance?” Singhvi asked. He further wondered if the PM knew about it. “If yes, what action did the Prime Minister take? If no, whether Prime Minister was kept in the dark?” he asked.

“You (PM) are maintaining a deafening silence. They (BJP) are trying to brazen it out. We demand that the silence be broken. It is a situation wherein more you try to hide, the more the truth comes out,” Singhvi said.

Call to clarify Meanwhile, seeking to corner the Congress, the BJP said Sonia should reply to Lalit Modi’s latest allegations.

Lalit Modi alleged that Varun had met him at his house in London and offered a deal to “settle” matters with Sonia, a charge dubbed by the BJP MP as “baseless” and “nonsense”.

“Mr @varungandhi80 came to see me at my house a few years ago and said he can settle everything in @INCIndia with his aunt. He wanted me to meet her sister from Italy,” he said in a serried of tweets. “I heard from our common friend who introduced us that Auntie wants 60 million dollars. Told them whaaaat are u nuts go HKG a kite. Can he deny that. I hope he does.”

Vehemently denying the charge, Varun said on Wednesday: “This is absolutely baseless and it is beneath my dignity to respond to this nonsense.” The BJP also came to Varun’s defence, saying he is in a different party than Sonia Gandhi.

BJP national secretary Shrikant Sharma said: “Sonia Gandhi should answer on the allegations made by (Lalit) Modi.”

Party spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said: “While Varun Gandhi has put across his point of view, Sonia Gandhi should answer on the allegations made by Lalit Modi...Congress asks too many questions, it is time now for them to reply.”

Surjewala said the former IPL chief was trying to divert attention from the Congress demand of the resignation of Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje in this connection. “The Chhota Modi is helping Bada Modi. He has become the sankatmochak (trouble-shooter)...The Chhota Modi is acting at the instance of someone within the government and the BJP... These are preposterous allegations.

“He is trying to divert attention from the demand of resignation (of Swaraj and Raje),” the Congress spokesperson said, asserting that his party will “not lose focus and will not relent and will not stop”.

The sharpened Congress attack comes 20 days ahead of what promises to be a stormy Monsoon session of Parliament.

Published on July 01, 2015
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