Former home minister P Chidambaram tore into external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj for claiming that she helped Lalit Modi get travel papers from the UK government on ‘humanitarian grounds’.
Swaraj is facing heat after it turned out that she had written to a British MP seeking to impress upon on the British government that they should give travel papers to the ex-head of Indian Premier League. At the time of this action, Modi was wanted in India for alleged financial crimes.
“If ‘humanitarian grounds’ is genuine, an Indian minister should tell and Indian citizen: Apply to the Indian High Commission. Why does she tell a British MP to get him a UK travel document,” Chidambaram said.
Asked if Modi had a right to get British travel papers to travel to Portugal to meet his ailing wife, Chidambaram said he had none.
Chidambaram also said that by then the Enforcement Directorate had issued a lookout notice on Modi and cancelled his passport.
“He had no right at all. He was an Indian citizen without a valid passport.”
Chidambaram also mocked the BJP saying that it was under the control of the Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh, and was being forced to defend Swaraj on the orders of the Sangh.
Separately, the Congress Party also asked why the external affairs minister did not disclose to the Parliament Ethics Committee the fact that her daughter was the legal counsel for Lalit Modi, who was facing legal proceedings emanating from her ministry as well as other ministries.
“The external affairs ministry under Sushma Swaraj did not file an appeal against the division bench judgment of Delhi High Court dated 27 August 2014 restoring the passport of Lalit Modi,” said spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala.
“Incidentally, her daughter, as we all know, was (Modi’s) counsel in the case and her own ministry was fighting the case,” he added. He also alleged that the external affairs ministry did not consult its counsel Rajiv Mehra on the matter of filing the appeal or not.
Surjewala also said that Mehra has since said that the appeal should have been filed in the Supreme Court.
“Why was she letting the order become final is a matter of great intrigue, considering that her own family member (daughter) was a counsel for Lalit Modi,” he said.