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Congress claims Modi govt “arrogance” reached zenith after Sushma’s “wilful” lies

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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.

Sushma-LalitSushma Swaraj on Thursday made a passionate defence of her role in the Lalit Modi affair, but the Congress termed her arguments as “hogwash”.

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.

(IANS)

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Will Congress Party be Able to Survive in Future in Face of Modi Onslaught?

It was India’s “Grand Old Party.” The Congress Party ruled the country for 55 out of 71 years since independence

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From left, Congress party leader Sonia Gandhi, her son and party President Rahul Gandhi, and former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh attend a Congress Working Committee meeting in New Delhi, May 25, 2019. VOA

It was India’s “Grand Old Party.” The Congress Party ruled the country for 55 out of 71 years since independence. But following the party’s crushing electoral debacle for a second time, there are questions about its future as the Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty at its helm is unable to counter the most powerful leader India has produced in decades: Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Contrary to expectations, India’s mammoth general election turned out to be virtually a no-contest between Modi and Congress Party president Rahul Gandhi as it became a presidential-style battle.

“It is not what went wrong with the Congress, it is more of a story of what went right for Prime Minister Modi. He stood as a tall leader, as an achiever, as somebody who understood people’s aspirations,” says political commentator Rasheed Kidwai, who has authored a biography of Rahul Gandhi’s mother, Sonia Gandhi. On the other hand, “Rahul Gandhi is temperamentally not a power wielder. He is a trustee of power.”

The sixth member of the Nehru Gandhi family to lead the party, Rahul is often seen as a “reluctant politician”, despite his spirited campaign to revive the party and challenge Modi after its rout in 2014.

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India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi waves toward his supporters during an election campaign rally in New Delhi, May 8, 2019. VOA

Gandhi’s rallies drew crowds, but his efforts to project Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party as a threat to India’s secular traditions or to highlight issues of economic distress failed to resonate. His attempts to nail him for corruption in a deal to buy Rafale French fighter jets fell flat. His promise of a minimum wage for India’s poorest families was met with skepticism, even among the poor.

On the other hand, Modi, successfully wooed voters with his message of strident nationalism and subtle appeal to the majority Hindu community. Along with it, there was another theme: he projected himself as the humble son of a tea seller, a self made man who fought all odds to reach the top post in contrast to what he called the “entitled” Gandhi who had inherited the mantle of leadership of the Congress Party. It drew cheers from the country’s emerging middle and lower-middle classes, exhausted with dynastic politics.

The Congress Party’s tally of 52 seats in parliament was only a notch higher than the 44 seats it won in 2014 in the 545-member parliament. The party’s candidates returned empty-handed in half the Indian states and in several others the party only mustered a single digit tally.Modi’s BJP won 303 seats.

The scale of its losses not just crushed hopes the Congress Party would either lead a credible challenge to Modi or return as invigorated opposition – it once again raised questions over the leadership of the Gandhi family.

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The sixth member of the Nehru Gandhi family to lead the party, Rahul is often seen as a “reluctant politician”, despite his spirited campaign to revive the party and challenge Modi after its rout in 2014. VOA

Rahul Gandhi has offered to resign, but expectedly the party that has no second rung of leadership has turned it down. “The party will fulfill its role as a strong opposition. We need Rahul Gandhi to lead us in these challenging times,” Congress Party spokesman Randeep Surjewala said after a meeting of the party’s senior leaders on the weekend.

Rahul Gandhi also lost the Amethi constituency the party had held for 50 years in Uttar Pradesh state. In another humiliating blow for the Gandhi family, his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who was appointed in a senior post to revive the party, failed to make an impact. Rahul’s mother, Sonia Gandhi, won her party’s only seat in the state.

Rahul Gandhi’s victory in another constituency in South India means he will continue to be a lawmaker. Dynastic politics is not limited to the Congress Party: lawmakers from political families are a routine feature of Indian politics. But political commentators say in an era showing a preference for strong, populist leaders, Modi was the clear victor.

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here are questions about its future as the Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty at its helm is unable to counter the most powerful leader India has produced in decades: Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Wikimedia Commons

“There is a new sense of nationalism sweeping across many conventional democracies. There is a yearning for a strong leader that captures the public imagination,” according to political analyst Ajoy Bose. “I don’t really see the conventional Congress Party or the conventional leadership mounting a challenge to Modi. He has completely taken the country by storm.”

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Gandhi tried to give a positive message after the party’s rout. “We have a different vision of India [from Modi]”, said the head of the party that has long projected itself as a defender of India’s minorities, such as Muslims who worry about religious polarization and a rise in hate crimes since Modi came to power. “There is no need to be afraid. We will continue to work hard and we will eventually win.”

But it may be difficult to reinvent what analysts call a “fading party.” They say Modi’s BJP now occupies the dominant political space that the Congress party did for decades. “Congress is going to get reduced to, you know, like the Liberals did in Britain,” says Rasheed Kidwai. (VOA)