Sushma Swaraj’s Lalitgate defence in Parliament without notice: Opposition

Sushma Swaraj's Lalitgate defence in Parliament without notice: Opposition

The opposition on Monday objected to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s statement in Parliament, saying it was made without notice and hence illegal, and urged Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari not to take it on record. In her statement during the Zero Hour, Sushma had made the statement saying she had not made any request to the British government for the issue of travel documents to controversial former Indian Premier League chief Lalit Modi and asserted that all allegations against her were “baseless and unfounded”.

In its complaint to the Chairman, Congress members have taken strong exception to Swaraj making the statement “suo motu without any notice” and sought his intervention to ensure that the “illegal” statement is not taken on record, sources said. Congress member Madhusudan Mistry had raised the issue in the House during the Question Hour, but could not be heard in the din, which led to the adjournment of Rajya Sabha until Tuesday morning.

Making her first statement in Parliament in the Lalit Modi controversy, Sushma managed to speak a few sentences in the Rajya Sabha amid slogan-shouting by the Congress members seeking fixing of accountability in the Lalitgate and Vyapam scam but could not complete her statement. In her short intervention, she 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 levelled 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.

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