BJP faces a day of protest over its prominent ministers

RSTV Bureau

Congress-protestFacing the political heat in a controversy surrounding helping out Lalit Modi, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhra Raje could be in for trouble after another aggressive round of demand for her resignation throughout the day. The Congress party had on Wednesday produced before the press, a set of documents purportedly carrying her signature to back Lalit Modi’s immigration application in the UK.

Showing no signs of letting the heat off Ms Raje, Rajasthan Congress chief Sachin Pilot made a strong pitch for her resignation saying no amount of BJP support can help her now.

“With the latest document coming out that Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje signed an affidavit supporting the fugitive Lalit Modi, it has become untenable for Raje to continue as the Chief Minister of Rajasthan,” Pilot said.

The Rajasthan CM is facing allegations of helping out controversial Lalit Modi, former boss of the popular cricket tournament IPL, in his immigration to UK on conditions of secrecy from Indian authorities. Raje’s son Dushyant Singh is also under attack over the reports of his company receiving Rs 11.63 crore in investments from Lalit Modi in 2008. Dushyant Singh is BJP Lok Sabha MP from Rajasthan.

Apart from Vasundhra Raje, Union External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj is also facing allegations of helping out former IPL boss Lalit Modi with his travel papers last year at the time when his passport was under revocation by the Indian authorities. The Congress party is demanding her resignation too.

The controversy has given opposition, especially the Congress party, an opening to even target Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his silence. Though on its part, Modi-led central government has said that the investigations in Lalit Modi issue will go on.

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who is on a 10-day visit to US, had said that the Indian agencies will continue to probe the matter till its conclusion.

“The government will play by the rule book and we will make sure that the absolute standards of probity are maintained,” Arun Jaitley said.

But the litany of problems for the ruling BJP has only grown with the principal opposition party seeking resignation of another prominent leader and Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani after a court in Delhi took cognisance of the petition alleging discrepancies in her affidavit submitted to the Election Commission.

The allegation in the petition goes that Smriti Irani had first furnished in 2004 Lok Sabha polls that she completed her BA degree in 1996 from the School of Correspondence, University of Delhi. But when she had filed her affidavit for Rajya Sabha elections in Gujarat and also for the 2014 General Elections, she disclosed her educational qualification as Bachelor’s degree in Commerce Part-I from School of Open Learning, DU. Further the year of her ‘degree’ was 1994.

Congress party has now demanded her resignation as well. While another opposition party, AAP has demanded the Central government to take action against Irani within “72 hours”.

“The suit-boot ki sarkar stands for corruption, promotes corruption and stands for economic offenders. This is very evident. Our protests will continue from streets to the Parliament,” Congress leader Shobha Oza said while protesting outside BJP headquarters at New Delhi.

In another protest at Jantar Mantar, Congress party attacked BJP over the allegations against Maharashtra BJP minister Pankaja Munde for awarding food contracts without following a due process. Congress leader Ajay Maken went on to accuse Women and Child Development minister Pankaja Munde of “playing with the health of children”.

And now, the Maharashtra Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has sought an explanation from the Women and Child Development department about the alleged awarding of contracts without inviting tenders after a complaint was filed by the members of Congress party.

(With inputs from the PTI)