In its first official response on the Sushma-Lalit Modi controversy, the Central government has defended External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. Fielding questions in a press conference held in New Delhi, senior leaders Arun Jaitely and Rajnath Singh backed Sushma Swaraj over her decision to ‘help’ out Lalit Modi and dubbed all the allegations as “baseless”.
“All allegations are baseless…her response (on twitter) and the party chief Amit Shah’s statement are clear on the aspect that whatever she did, it was with a bonafide intention. Entire party is standing behind her,” Arun Jaitley told the press.
“All our ministers are capable of taking their own decisions and government will back them,” Union Finance minister Arun Jaitley added.
On the other hand, the Congress party has hardened its stand even further demanding a Supreme Court-monitored SIT probe into the entire affair. Already keeping up its ante seeking Sushma Swaraj’s resignation from the cabinet, the party termed the controversy as a “scandal”.
Congress alleged that the senior leaders of the party and government too were “in cahoots” with Lalit Modi. The principal opposition party insisted that a thorough investigation in the affair is needed as the issue is not just about the travel documents.
“There has been nexus of the senior leadership of the government who have been in cahoots in cricket management or mismanagement…The ruling party is involved. Those in the government cannot be trusted. It has to be done by a Supreme Court-monitored SIT,” senior leaders Anand Sharma told the press at AICC headquarters.
The party also used the occasion to target the Prime Minister for “maintaining silence” on the issue.
“He needed to speak up as what has happened is scandalous,” said Anand Sharma on Tuesday afternoon.
Once again targeting Ms. Swaraj, the Congress leaders alleged that it is “clear from day 1 that not just Sushma Swaraj, at the highest level the government wanted to help Lalit Modi. It wasn’t their duty to get him back to India. They are protecting and helping this person”.
Earlier in the day, the party and its various frontal organisations like Youth Congress, NSUI and Mahila Congress again staged a demonstration outside Ms Swaraj’s official residence in New Delhi demanding her resignation.
Meanwhile, the BJP ally Shiv Sena too sought a probe over the incident so that “real story” could be unearthed. The ally urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to step in and order an investigation to know who is so keen on maligning Sushma Swaraj’s clean reputation.
“Covering Swaraj in a mist of controversy and questions seems to be a huge political game being played to oust her from the BJP and from national politics,” opined Shiv Sena in its mouthpiece ‘Saamna’.
Coming out in support of the External Affairs Minister, Shiv Sena also took a swipe at the opposition Congress party.
“The Congress party is behaving as if Swaraj has helped get bail to arrested fugitive gangster Dawood Ibrahim or Kasab. This controversy is being fuelled by using a section of the media”.