Stepping up its attack on the BJP government, the Congress on Wednesday asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to immediately sack External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in the wake of fresh revelations that fugitive former IPL chief Lalit Modi had offered a job to her advocate husband Swaraj Kaushal.
Addressing a press conference here, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said, “There is now clear material to show that Lalit Modi offered a job to close relative of Foreign Minister.”
There is a complete direct factual web of deceit and avoidance and at the highest assurance of Government. Does it not directly establish a nexus? Singhvi asked.
Coming down heavily on the BJP government, Singhvi said, “You are having on one hand deafening silence and on the other casual clean chits. This can’t go. People of India want an answer.”
The fresh attack from Congress came shortly after it appeared in media that months after Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj helped Lalit Modi get urgent travel documents in the UK, the former IPL chief asked her husband, Swaraj Kaushal, to serve as his back-up on the board of one of his companies, Indofil.
Media reports quoted an email sent in April by Lalit Modi in which he had asked Swaraj’s husband to be an Alternate Director, implying that Kaushal would fill in for him at board meetings.
However, Kaushal, who has for years been one of Lalit Modi’s lawyers, later refused the offer.
In an interview to a news channel, Kaushal said, “I have been a lawyer for Lalit Modi for over 20 years. I was offered to be an Alternate Director on Indofil Board. I did not given my consent to be the director. The request was withdrawn.”
The Congress claimed the fact that he was sought out by Modi offers new evidence of the inappropriate proximity between the Foreign Minister and the entrepreneur.
Congress also asked the Prime Minister and the ruling BJP to clarify over the issue.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala and senior leader Digvijay Singh had earlier alleged that Lalit Modi had made a job offer to a family member of a senior BJP minister and called for an inquiry into the issue by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Senior Congress leader PC Chacko also said, “Directorship of company is only offered to a person in whom one has abundant confidence.”
The Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP too attacked the ruling BJP on the issue.
“Is there any minister in Narendra Modi’s cabinet whose immediate relative was offered a job in a company owned by Lalit Modi? Can a cabinet minister’s relative be involved in a commercial transaction or have pecuniary interests with persons or businesses that are subject matter of that particular ministry? Should such disclosures not be made in public interest?” asked AAP leader Raghav Chadha.
Importantly, Indofil Chairman and Managing Director Krishan Kumar Modi today said that External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s husband, Swaraj Kaushal’s name was never considered for the post of director, adding that the appointment was a mere suggestion by Lalit Modi.
“Lalit Modi had proposed that Swaraj Kaushal be given the post of an alternate director, a proposal that he later withdrew. Thus the board of directors never considered his name. We have never had any discussions with Kaushal over the same,” KK Modi told.