Vasundhara Raje
Vasundhara Raje

Congress keeps up pressure on Raje, BJP says no crisis

NetIndian News Network

New Delhi, June 25, 2015

The Congress and other Opposition parties today kept up their demand for the resignation of Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje for supporting former Indian Premier League (IPL) chief Lalit Modi's UK immigration plea, but the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) maintained there was no crisis in the party.
Ms Raje's office put out a statement saying that she had not been asked by her party to resign from her position said that the media reports about her were "unsubstantiated".
"There is no crisis within the BJP," Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu was quoted as telling a news agency, indicating that the BJP may have decided to rough it out on the issue.
The BJP found itself in a spot as a document apparently signed by Ms Raje in support of Mr Modi's immigration application emerged today, leading to calls by the Congress and other Opposition parties for her immediate resignation.
On June 16, a draft of the document had first come into the public domain, but Ms Raje had said on that day that she was unaware of any such documents.
"I know Lalit Modi's family and I have never denied it. I don't know what documents are being referred to," she had told a news agency.
BJP leaders in Rajasthan also came to her defence and questioned the authenticity of the documents, pointing out that they did not carry anybody's signature.
The latest reports have come at a time when the BJP is already facing a relentless attack from the Congress and other Opposition parties over the help that External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had extended to Mr Modi in getting travel documents from the UK government.
The new document, copies of which were shown by television channels and released by the Congress at a press conference by former Union Minister Jairam Ramesh here yesterday evening, showed that Ms Raje had declared that the inquiry in India against Mr Modi was "politically motivated".
Her testimony was was part of the documents filed by Mr Modi in the United Kingdom as part of his appeal for immigration in 2011.
Congress leader Sachin Pilot questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi's silence in the face of "damning evidence" and wondered if Ms Raje's actions in support of a person who was wanted by law enforcement agencies in India had the backing and approval of the BJP leadership.
"We want to remind the Prime Minister about his tweet dated 14th June, 2014 wherein he said, '14.6.2014 - @Narendramodi: Time has come to take tough decisions in the interest of the nation. Whatever decision we take will be solely guided by national interest'," he said.
"Does Prime Minister consider securing residence for an Indian fugitive in a foreign country in national interest? Is this the false patriotism and pseudo-nationalism of BJP?" he asked.
Mr Pilot also referred to media reports that suggested that Ms Raje was in London in July 2011 as part of a BJP delegation that included its then president Nitin Gadkari and Ms Smriti Irani and had then extended her stay, a period which coincided with the date of the testimony of August 18, 2011 in support of Mr Lalit Modi.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) said the testimony by Ms Raje had conclusively established the wrongdoing indulged in by her.
"It is shocking that the then leader of the opposition in the Rajasthan Assembly made a conditionality that her support for Lalit Modi should be kept confidential and not be known to the Indian authorities.  This is a new low from a political leader and a national affront," a statement from the party said.
"The Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) demands the immediate resignation of Vasundhara Raje from the Chief Ministership. This should be followed by an investigation into the links she and her family members have with Lalit Modi," it said.
"The Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) demands that a comprehensive enquiry be conducted in the Lalit Modi affair. Till then, it is not tenable for the External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj, to continue in office," it added.
Ms Swaraj, 63, had admitted on June 14 that she had helped Mr Modi to get the travel papers as a "humanitarian" gesture to enable him to be present for his wife's surgery for cancer in Portugal in July last year, leading to calls for her resignation by the Opposition parties.
She was dragged into the controversy when The Sunday Times of London said in a report that Labour MP Keith Vaz used her name to put pressure on the UK's top immigration official to give Mr Lalit Modi  the documents.
Ms Swaraj said she had helped Mr Modi on "humanitarian" grounds so that he could be present in Lisbon, Portugal where his wife was due at that time to undergo surgery for cancer.
Mr Lalit Modi, 49, who had successfully conducted the first three editions of the IPL, travelled to London in 2010 amid claims of match-fixing and illegal betting in that year's edition of the tournament and allegations by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) of misappropriation of funds, among other things.
He refused summons issued by the Chennai Police on the basis of a complaint by the BCCI. The Indian government later revoked his passport, which left him grounded in the UK. He has always denied any wrongdoing in the IPL scam and claimed that he had left India because of death threats.
The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) had, on the request of the Enforcement Directorate, issued a light blue corner notice against Mr Modi in 2010 after he failed to appear before it for questioning with regard to allegations of violation of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA).
As the issue swirled into a major controversy, Ms Swaraj took to micro-blogging site Twitter on Jun 1to admit that she had been in touch with Mr Modi and that she had done so on humanitarian grounds because his wife was suffering from cancer and her surgery was fixed for August 4 in Portugal. 
"He told me that he had to be present in the hospital to sign the consent papers," she had said.
The BCCI had suspended Mr Modi as IPL Commissioner on the night of April 25, 2010, minutes after the final of that year's edition of the IPL T-20 tournament ended and served him with a 34-page chargesheet.
There were allegations against him about the investments in IPL teams by his relatives and the contracts awarded to various firms. 
The controversy had led to nationwide search operations by the Income Tax Department, the Enforcement Directorate and other agencies at the offices of some of the teams as well as other companies.
Mr Modi, the son of well-known industrialist Krishan Kumar Modi, head of the Modi Enterprises group, has consistently denied all the charges against him and blamed the then BCCI adminstration for his woes.

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