Sushma justifies move, cites humanitarian grounds as reason

Sushma justifies move, cites humanitarian grounds as reason

Unfazed by allegations that she influenced British immigration authorities to grant travel documents to fugitive IPL ex-chief Lalit Modi, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has issued a detailed response to counter the Opposition's demand of her removal from the Union Cabinet.

Meanwhile, she has also been accused by the British media of seeking British MP Keith Vaz's help to secure admission for a relative in a university there.  “Vaz had previously offered to help Swaraj’s nephew to apply for a British law degree course,” reported London-based “The Sunday Times” on Sunday.

Indian-origin Labour MP Vaz kept mum on this issue when a news television channel tried to seek his comment over phone.  Swaraj said on the issue: “Regarding Jyotirmay Kaushal's admission in a law course at Sussex University, he secured admission through the normal process in 2013—one year before I became a minister.”

In her detailed candid reply, Swaraj admitted to helping Modi out on humanitarian grounds, but at the same time tweeted: “What benefit did I pass on to Lalit Modi – that he could sign consent papers for surgery of his wife suffering from Cancer? (sic)”
“He was in London. After his wife's surgery, he came back to London. What is it that I changed?” she said.   Swaraj said she had suggested to the British government that if they chose to give travel documents to Modi, it would “not spoil our bilateral relations”. “Some time in July 2014, Lalit Modi told me his wife was suffering from cancer and her surgery was fixed for August 4 (that year) in Portugal. He told me he had to be present in the hospital to sign the consent papers. He informed me he had applied for travel documents in London, and that the UK government was prepared to give him the documents. However, they were restrained by a UPA government communication that this would spoil Indo-UK relations,” she explained.

She also acknowledged that Vaz spoke to her, and that “I told him precisely what I told the British High Commissioner”.

“I genuinely believe that in a situation such as this, giving emergency travel documents to an Indian citizen cannot and should not spoil relations between the two countries,” she said.

She also reminded her critics that the Delhi High Court had only a few days ago quashed the UPA government’s order to impound Modi’s passport, terming the previous regime's move unconstitutional, and that he got his passport back.

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