Jaitley's 'clean chit' to Raje's son a 'cover-up': Cong

Jaitley's 'clean chit' to Raje's son a 'cover-up': Cong

Congress today attacked Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in Lalit Modi controversy over his alleged "clean chit" to Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and the former IPL boss, terming it as a "clear-cut cover-up" but stopped short of seeking his resignation.

"It is a clear-cut cover-up. We charge the Finance Minister with influencing the Enforcement Directorate (ED) probe in Raje's son Dushyant Singh and Lalit Modi's case," Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said while addressing a joint press conference with former Union Minister Jairam Ramesh.

Azad wondered as to what made the Finance Minister give a "clean chit" to Vasundhara Raje's son and Lalit Modi, when the ED, which comes under his ministry, was probing these "shady transactions" of converting "ill-gotten black money".

Asked why Congress was not demanding resignation of the Finance Minister for the alleged cover-up, he said, Congress was waiting for the response from the Prime Minister as he had maintained silence on the matter so far.

"We will reveal our strategy after hearing what the Prime Minister says. Let us see what he says," Azad said, adding the earlier the PM speaks it would be better for him as the issue could lead to resignation of several people and bring half of the Union Council of Ministers under cloud of suspicion".

He asked Jaitley, who is also Leader of the Rajya Sabha, how he could describe as "commercial transaction" the Rs 11 crore dealing between Dushyant and Lalit Modi. "Why he is giving clean chit to Vasundhara Raje and her son?"

This was because Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain has told Delhi High Court on January 6 that ED has already initiated action through an "open and general investigation" and it will be taken to its logical conclusion, Azad said.

"Does it mean that ED investigations have been summarily closed against Raje's family by the Finance Ministry? Has the Finance Minister not prejudiced and prejudged the issue proving the complicity of BJP leadership in these black money dealings?" Azad said posing five questions to Prime Minister.

Taking a dig at the Prime Minister, Ramesh said it was time Narendra Modi gets up from "Nidrasan" (Sleep) and say something. "Everyday new scandals are being exposed and yet PM is silent on this. So isn't PM party to all this?" Azad asked.

Speaking separately, senior Congress leader Anand Sharma rejected Jaitley's "commercial transaction" argument.

He asked the Finance Minister how could "re-routing of laundered money from a tax haven for purported investment in a company at an inflated share price of 9000 times be seen as a normal transaction".

"Jaitley needs to be reminded that in the past as Leader of the Opposition he had demanded action against a UPA minister when only a shadow was there. He had insisted action even when no allegations were substantiated," Sharma told PTI. 

Azad and Ramesh alleged that a "deep rooted nexus to protect and help money launderer and black money hoarder Lalit Modi on part of the entire BJP leadership, with needle of suspicion pointing towards the Prime Minister himself, is out in the open for the entire nation to see and Judge."

The Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha asked the Prime Minister whether External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Vasundhara Raje not guilty of FEMA, Money Laundering and Passport Acts.

On the issue of Mumbai Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria meeting former IPL boss Lalit Modi in London last year by keeping the then Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan in dark, Azad said, the Chief Minister has sought information on the meeting and one should wait till the response comes.

"We will raise the issue at an appropriate time. We do not want to dilute the Lalit Modi controversy now," Azad remarked when his comment were sought on the reported decision of BJP government to return the "favour" to diamond tycoon Laljibhai Patel had done by purchasing PM Narendra Modi's monogrammed suit for Rs 4.31 crore in February.

Reports had it that all arrangements have been made through the BJP-controlled Surat Municipal Corporation to "return" 12,000 sqm of land on the outer ring road of the Surat city to a Patel-owned sports club for the construction of an "international standard sports complex."

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