Strongly defending herself over the issue of lending help to controversial Lalit Modi, Union External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj termed the Opposition protest against her as “unfortunate”. Ms Swaraj on Thursday spoke before the lower house while Congress along with host of other opposition remained absent in protest against the suspension of 25 Congress MPs.
“It is unfortunate that my closest friends in Opposition are levelling charges against me. These are my bad days. I am sure, they will be over soon,” she said in her opening remarks.
“I challenge anyone to show a document, letter or email recommending Lalit Modi’s case to British government,” the Union External Affairs minister added in her speech at Lok Sabha.
Sushma Swaraj is facing allegation of helping out Lalit Modi, the controversial former chief of the popular cricket tournament IPL with travel papers in UK, at the time his passport was revoked by the Indian authorities. The controversy broke out early in June after which the Opposition, in particular the Congress party, has been demanding her resignation.
Earlier in the days when the controversy had broken out fresh, Ms Swaraj admitted of lending help to Modi on “humanitarian” grounds.
Reiterating that she had only told the UK government that relations with that country will not be affected if they choose to provide Lalit Modi travel documents to visit Portugal to be with his ailing wife, she said, “If helping a woman cancer patient is a crime, then I admit having committed this crime and I am ready to face any punishment from this House for it”.
The issue, along with controversy involving Rajasthan CM Vasundhara Raje and her son Dushyant Singh, also a BJP MP, having alleged business interest with Lalit Modi and the ‘Vyapam’ scam of Madhya Pradesh has led to an impasse between the ruling BJP and the principal opposition Congress party. The latter has been seeking the resignations of Sushma Swaraj, Rajasthan CM Raje and Madhya Pradesh CM Chouhan, the demands which had been rejected by the Modi government.
With the Monsoon session of the Parliament seeing a very little business over the opposition protest, the stalemate accentuated further with Speaker Sumitra Mahajan’s decision to suspend 25 MPs of the Congress party on Monday for “persistently, wilfully obstructing the House” citing the Rule 374 (A). The decision led to Congress party boycotting the house in protest, which has been supported by eight other opposition parties who too are boycotting the proceedings.
However, continuing to defend herself even in the absence of the very opposition that had been seeking her ouster, Ms Swaraj added, “If Sonia Gandhi had been in my place, would she have left a woman cancer patient to die? This is humanitarianism and not a case of helping Lalit Modi”.
(With inputs from the PTI)