Sushma Swaraj in row over Lalit Modi travel papers

PTI | | Updated on: Dec 06, 2021

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External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was today at the centre of a major row for helping scam-tainted former IPL chief Lalit Modi to obtain British travel documents but found strong support from the government and the BJP which rejected opposition demands for her resignation.

The genesis of the controversy was disclosure of emails showing that she had spoken to Indian-origin British MP Keith Vaz and its High Commissioner James Bevan favouring the grant of travel documents to Lalit Modi, who is wanted in India and has made London his home since 2010 to avoid a probe in this for alleged betting and misappropriation of funds in the T20 cricket tournament.

According to British media which quoted leaked emails, Vaz cited Swaraj’s name to put pressure on UK’s top immigration official to grant British travel papers to Lalit Modi, who subsequently got the documents in less than 24 hours.

Vaz also offered to help Swaraj’s nephew Jyotirmay Kaushal apply for a British law degree course, the report said.

After the reports surfaced, 63-year-old Swaraj said in a series of tweets that she had taken a “humanitarian view” and conveyed to the British High Commissioner that they should examine Modi’s request as per their rules and “if the British government chooses to give travel documents to Lalit Modi — that will not spoil our bilateral relations“.

She also spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi explaining her position on the issue.

Opposition seeks resignation Opposition parties slammed her action and demanded her resignation. Congress questioned even the role of the Prime Minister and posed 11 questions to him, including “what happens to transparency and non-corruption” promise made by him.

However, the government, the BJP as well as RSS, strongly backed Swaraj and rejected resignation demands, asserting that she had done no wrong and only acted on “humanitarian” grounds. The government support was expressed after Home Minister Rajnath Singh met the Prime Minister.

Published on June 14, 2015
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