Making her first statement in Parliament in the Lalit Modi controversy, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Monday denied asking the British government to issue a travel document to the tainted cricket czar Lalit Modi to allow him and his wife to travel to Portugal for medical reasons.
“I did not request the British government for any travel documents for Lalit Modi. The allegations leveled against me are baseless,” Sushma told the Rajya Sabha which was adjourned as soon as she began to speak, with the opposition rejecting her statement and instead asking for a statement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the issue.
Sushma’s denial is in sharp contrast with the government’s position so far over helping Lalit Modi’s wife – who needed a surgery in Portugal – as a step taken on “humanitarian grounds”. The BJP has been using that line to distance Sushma from Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, who had signed on Lalit Modi’s immigration papers and whose son Dushyant has business relations with the tainted former IPL chief.
Last month, an email sent by Lalit Modi proposing Sushma’s husband, Swaraj Kaushal, as the alternate director in his company, Indofil, also emerged. Modi had sent a letter to his company secretary, appointing Kaushal as his proxy in Indofil board meetings since he is out of the country. Soon after the revelation, Kaushal, who has been Modi’s lawyer for close to three decades, said he declined the offer.