New Delhi: Mounting pressure on the Narendra Modi government to sack Sushma Swaraj for facilitating travel documents of former IPL chief Lalit Modi, senior Congress leader Anand Sharma on Tuesday said that what the External Affairs Minister did was unwarranted.
Addressing a press conference, Sharma said the actions of the Government of India and the External Affairs Minister were “unwarranted” and sought to know why concessions were made to facilitate Lalit Modi’s travel to Portugal.
“When there were no specific queries from the authorities in the UK, why did the GoI made this unacceptable concession,” the Congress leader asked.
The UK government had India’s request not to allow Lalit Modi to move out of the country, he stated.
Sharma rubbished the claim that the concession was made on humanitarian grounds.
“There was no invasive surgery (for Lalit Modi’s wife) for which the emergency travel documents were required,” Sharma said, adding it’s a false claim that this was done on humanitarian grounds.
“Lalit Modi was holidaying in a place called Ibiza, when the passport was restored. But the Indian government did not appeal,” Sharma said, adding “this person for whom humanitarian empathy was invoked was holidaying in various countries despite declaring bankruptcy”.
He demanded that a Supreme Court panel should investigate the money laundering case against Lalit Modi.
“We demand a thorough investigation in this affair not restricted to travel documents, under the supervision of the Supreme Court,” Sharma said.
Arguing that Lalit Modi should have been extradited and prosecuted, Sharma said, “We have to ask PM Narendra Modi directly, why is he quiet? Can there be different set of rules when you talk of probity?”
Can there be one set of rules for UPA ministers and another for his ministers? Narendra Modi had himself pressed for resignations of UPA ministers even if there was a shadow of doubt, Sharma added.
“These are all friends of Lalit Modi, they are protecting him. They are hiding facts. PM Modi must answer.”
The genesis of the controversy was disclosure of e-mails showing that Swaraj had spoken to Indian-origin British MP Keith Vaz and UK’s High Commissioner to India James Bevan favouring the grant of travel documents to Lalit Modi to go to Portugal, purportedly for his wife’s cancer treatment in June last year.
Modi, who is wanted in India, has made London his home since 2010 to avoid a probe for alleged foreign exchange regulation violations in the IPL T20 cricket tournament held in South Africa in 2009. The previous UPA government had revoked his passport and had pressed for his extradition.