New Delhi: The Congress party on Thursday tore into the Modi government, saying its “arrogance of power reached its zenith” when it asked External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to “explain away her unpardonable impropriety, willful lies, criminal intent, gross misuse of office and patent conflict of interest in the garb of ‘humanitarian grounds’ to help Lalit Modi.
Anand Sharma, senior party spokesperson and deputy leader in Rajya Sabha, in a statement said the Modi government “first murdered democracy by suspending 25 MPs and effectively expelled the entire opposition from Lok Sabha”.
The party accused the Modi government and Sushma Swaraj of “once again misleading the country shamelessly and unabashedly”.
It latched on to Sushma’s tweets of June 14 in which she “admitted that she enabled the British government to give Lalit Modi travel documents. Lalit Modi’s request for travel documents had been rejected by British authorities on July 3, 2014. Obviously, only Sushma Swaraj’s intervention helped Lalit Modi get the travel documents by making the British authorities reverse their decision,” the Congress argued.
The party said that Sushma Swaraj was maintaining a family relationship with Lalit Modi, a fugitive of law, a FEMA (Foreign Exchange Management Act) violator and a money-launderer for over last 20 years, both as a leader of opposition with cabinet status and then as the union external affairs minister.
The Congress said that Sushma Swaraj received telephonic calls in July 2014 as foreign minister to help a fugitive, i.e., Lalit Modi.
In July 2014 itself, Sushma Swaraj herself spoke to British Envoy, James Bevan to help such a fugitive get travel documents from the British government. She, in the process, over-ruled all objections of the government of India as repatriation of Lalit Modi to face prosecution in India.
She did not consult even the then Foreign Secretary, Sujata Singh, or her own ministry. She also chose not to consult the finance ministry or ED or DRI before overruling the objections originally raised and communicated to the British government by finance ministry, it said.
Sushma Swaraj also recommended the case of Lalit Modi to the head of a parliamentary committee of a foreign country, i.e., chairman, home affairs committee, House of Commons, Britain – Keith Vaz to grant travel documents to Lalit Modi.
It said her daughter was counsel for Lalit Modi in this case before the division bench when it was decided against decision of foreign ministry confiscating the passport.
Sushma Swaraj or her foreign ministry never took opinion of counsel for foreign ministry, Rajiv Mehra, who appeared before single and division bench qua filing of appeal in Supreme Court. Rajiv Mehra now states that, “It (appeal to the Supreme Court) should have been done. Normally, it is automatically done….”
Sushma Swaraj, by her “humanitarian gesture” (as she says), has permitted a fugitive and money-launderer not only to travel from Britain to Portugal but also facilitated his travel for holidays to resort town of Ibiza (August 4, 2014) and back to his hideout in Britain to escape the Indian law and authorities, who, according to the finance minister, were chasing him for arrest.
He said the UPA government through its then finance minister, P. Chidambaram, wrote two letters to Chancellor of Exchequer George Osborne asking him for action against Lalit Modi besides following it up with a personal meeting between India’s finance minister and chancellor of exchequer, Britain. But Sushma Swaraj overruled the objections given earlier by the government of India.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj could not have withdrawn the written communications of the government of India written through the then finance minister without prior consent of the present finance minister and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, leading to grant of travel documents to Lalit Modi. Tacit approval of the Prime Minister is, thus, writ large?, the Congress said.