Oppn demands Sushma scalps but SP says it's ok

In soup: Lalit Modi enjoys proximity to many BJP leaders, says Congress

Oppn demands Sushma scalps but SP says it's ok

Opposition parties on Sunday demanded the resignation of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj for helping former Indian Premier League (IPL) commissioner Lalit Modi, a fugitive, in procuring travel documents in the UK.

Seeking answers from Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sushma’s controversial conduct, the Congress also brought Finance Minister Arun Jaitley into the row, wondering, “Why the FM continued with the lookout notice against Modi while Swaraj was helping the money-laundering fugitive”.

The Congress charged that Lalit Modi enjoyed proximity to many leaders of the BJP, including its president Amit Shah.  Breaking ranks with the Opposition parties, however, the Samajwadi Party came to Sushma’s defence. Senior SP leader Ram Gopal Yadav said Sushma did not do anything “wrong” by helping Lalit on humanitarian ground, maintaining that it was “unfortunate” that an unnecessary hype was being created by some “people” in the matter.

"People are asking: Is (Narendra) Modi helping (Lalit) Modi? The needle of suspicion rests at the door of the office of the prime minister,” Congress in-charge of media department Randeep Surjewala charged and raised 11 questions, asking Modi to answer to the nation.

The Congress leader also rejected Sushma’s stand that she helped Lalit on “humanitarian grounds” and accused her of returning favour to the former IPL commissioner who had helped her husband Swaraj Kaushal in getting his nephew admitted to a law programme at Sussex University in UK in 2013.

“After getting travel documents from the UK government, not only did Lalit Modi thank External Affairs Minister but also her husband,” he charged, referring the exchange of e-mails between Lalit and Indian origin British Parliamentarian Keith Vaz.

It’s a “clear-cut case of gross impropriety” on part of Sushma and she should immediately step down as the External Affairs Minister, Surjewala demanded.

“Modi and BJP had sought resignation of the then Union Minister Shashi Tharoor on the allegation of his wife holding a small share in IPL team. Will the prime minister and the BJP now apply the same yardsticks of moral and constitutional propriety and accountability?” he asked.

JD-U spokesperson K C Tyagi condemned Sushma for helping Lalit while CPI leader D Raja demanded an explanation from the prime minister.

CPM leader Brinda Karat described the episode as a “case of grave impropriety”, saying it is the duty of the prime minister to answer the questions being raised.

AAP spokesperson Ashutosh said Sushma should step down.

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