The controversy surrounding former IPL boss Lalit Modi has deepened after the names of Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhra Raje, former UPA ministers Sharad Pawar, Rajeev Shukla and Praful Patel too cropping up late on Tuesday evening.
Ms Raje has become another senior BJP leader to be embroiled in the controversy of helping out Lalit Modi after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. The latter is already facing allegations of ‘controversially helping out’ Lalit Modi with his travel papers last year, at the time when his passport was under revocation by the Indian authorities.
And on Tuesday evening, the PR agency representing the interests of Lalit Modi, released documents citing the current Rajasthan CM Vasundhra Raje had purportedly assured help to Lalit Modi for his immigration on the condition that her name shall never figure before the Indian Authorities.
On her part, Chief Minister Vasundhra Raje reacted by denying any knowledge about the said documents.
“Of course I know the family. I have always known them…(But) I do not know what documents they are talking about,” she told a news agency in Jaipur.
The three page note released by the PR team of Lalit Modi contains the purported but an unsigned ‘Witness Statement’ of Raje, while she was the leader of Opposition in Rajasthan Legislative Assembly. According to the ‘Witness statment’, in the year 2011, Raje had supported the immigration application of Lalit Modi to United Kingdom (UK) on the terms of strict secrecy. By that time, Lalit Modi, was already facing the heat of multi-crore corruption allegations in the popular cricket tournament IPL.
Rajya Sabha TV’s online edition cannot independently verify the veracity/authenticity of the documents released by the PR or Legal team of Lalit Modi.
However, Lalit Modi in an interview to the private television channel Headlines Today claimed, “My relationship with Vasundhara Raje goes back 30 years. That relationship is known to everybody”.
“She openly agreed to be (to be a witness), but unfortunately by the time the case went to trial, she was already chief Minister, so she did not come to become a witness. The statements she gave is all on records in the courts,” added Lalit Modi in his interview to Headlines Today.
Lalit Modi also named former Union Agriculture minister and ex-Chief of the BCCI Sharad Pawar along with MoS in the UPA Praful Patel and Rajeev Shukla, claiming the three had helped him as well.
The new twist to the entire episode has given another reason for the Congress party to launch fresh attack on the ruling BJP demanding resignation of the two.
“Sushma Swaraj never disclosed this relationship either to the Parliament Ethics Committee or to the Government of India, which is compulsory under Code of Conduct,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala alleged.
“This is also clear that Smt. Sushma Swaraj called on the UK envoy to India that travel docs be handed over to Lalit Modi,” Surjewala further alleged.
With Congress party already demanding External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s ouster along with a Supreme Court monitored SIT probe on the controversy, the emergence of another of its prominent leader has added to the vows of the ruling BJP and in particular Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Meanwhile, former Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram demanded the BJP-run central government to release the details of correspondence between him and UK’s Chancellor of Exchequer in 2013 regarding the action sought on Lalit Modi by the then UPA government.
(With inputs from the PTI)