Lalitgate: Top BJP leaders hold meet, state unit backs Vasundhara Raje



By NewsGram Staff Writer

As the Vasundhara Raje-Lalit Modi controversy spills out of bounds, the Rajasthan Bharatiya Janata Party unit has sought to put together a defence of its embattled Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje.

The unit discussed her future at meetings on Friday involving Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and party president Amit Shah.

For the first time, the state unit of the BJP admitted to Raje signing the controversial witness statement in support of former IPL boss Lalit Modi though it insisted that the statement was just a “draft” because it was never presented before the UK court.

State unit head Ashok Parnami said: “That must be seen in the context of the political situation at that time, while clarifying the key issue of Raje seeking to ensure that the document should not be known to Indian authorities.

Parnami, accompanied by Rajasthan Heath Minister Rajendra Rathore, argued that since she did not depose before the UK court, the document was legally inconsequential as per court rules of that country.

“The signed document raised by Congress led to no help for Modi. Until the date of the signature, Enforcement Directorate had made no decision about Lalit Modi, nor was he declared an absconder,” Rathore said.

“The witness document that is being spoken about has not been presented before any court”, Parnami further emphasised.

Earlier in the day, Jaitley held a meeting with the PM in Delhi where the issue is likely to have cropped up.

Soon after this meeting, Shah held a 40-minute meeting with Jaitley at the latter’s residence where the developments in the Raje case were discussed, after which he met PM Modi.

After the Lalit Modi controversy engulfed Rajasthan chief minister, these meetings are the first set of high level deliberations regarding the Vasundhara Raje’s case.

Party leaders are also relying on the legal defence presented by Raje–which seeks to suggest that the transaction between Raje’s son Dushyant’s firm and a company associated with the former IPL boss–was legitimate and reported to tax authorities.

Claiming that confidentiality is a crucial element of such cases, Raje’s backers also seem to be justifying her move to keep her endorsement confidential.

“If confidentiality provisions are not there who could support Tasleema Nasrin’s plea to stay in India. It is an internationally accepted practice,” suggested a senior BJP who did not want to be identified and who was giving an example to buttress Raje’s stand.

However, the BJP central leadership is still divided over the political acceptability of this defence ahead of the monsoon session of parliament.

Meanwhile, Lalit Modi has publicly declared that she did not appear as a witness as she had become the chief minister by then and could not have endorsed him while holding a constitutional post.

On a separate note, the BJP decision to go “aggressive” with Lalit Modi’s claims that he had run into Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s daughter Priyanka Gandhi and her husband Robert Vadra in London were dismissed as “juvenile” by the Congress.