Opp guns for Raje after fresh document shows she backed Lalit Modi's plea

Opp guns for Raje after fresh document shows she backed Lalit Modi's plea

Pressure mounted tonight for the ouster of Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje after emergence of a document purportedly carrying her signature to back Lalit Modi's immigration application in the UK, with Congress saying she stood "exposed completely" while batting for a "fugitive".

Stepping up the offensive against Raje, who had claimed she did not recall having signed such a document, Congress accused her of "repeatedly lying" and demanded her immediate resignation.

"The curtains are off, the secret is out. The document signed by Vasundhara Raje dated August 18, 2011 supporting his immigration case before the British government is out. When the issue came out first, she feigned ignorance and then said she does not remember," senior party leader Jairam Ramesh told reporters at the AICC briefing.

Raje was alleged to have agreed to become a witness to the former IPL Czar's immigration application provided it was kept a secret in India.

"BJP has always maintained that if papers are produced with her signature, then she is culpable. There is no need of anymore evidence, Vasundhara Raje stands thoroughly exposed," Ramesh said.

Ramesh said the Congress seeks her immediate resignation as she has broken four laws - Indian Penal Code, Prevention of Corruption Act, PMLA, Passport Act, while batting for a "bhagora" (fugitive).

Displaying the seven-page document having 21 points, he said, "This has never happened in independent India before where a former Chief Minister and Leader of Opposition has batted for a fugitive".

In a tight spot following fresh revelations, BJP reacted with caution, with its spokesperson Sambit Patra saying the party "will not run away" from the issue and look into the new disclosure.

"We will not run away... The party will do whatever is necessary to see to it that truth comes out in the open," Patra said.

Hitting out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Ramesh said, "The government which advocates propriety and zero tolerence to corruption should immediately seek her resignation. The Prime Minister who used to speak so much on these issues one year back has been silent and has gone into a shell".

With the Lalit Modi controversy snowballing into a bigger row by the day, Ramesh also demanded the resignation of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who had helped Modi secure travel documents for him in the UK, besides that of HRD Minister Smriti Irani, caught in a row over furnishing different informations about her educational qualifications in election affidavits.

"She should immediately resign. It should be followed by the resignation of Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and HRD Minister Smriti Irani," he said.

Making it clear that the Congress was not relent on the issue, Ramesh said the demand for resignation of the three leaders is "non-negotiable".

After tonight, the continuace of Raje as Chief Minister of Rajasthan is "immoral", he said.

"Our struggle will continue both inside and outside Parliament," he said. Senior CPI-M leader Brinda Karat said, Raje cannot be allowed to stay in office "even for a second".

"This is the responsibility of BJP's top leaders including Narendra Modi and Amit Shah to immediately take action and get her to resign because clearly she is not going to resign.

"She chose to lie in the first place after the first expose. She is a person who knows what should be done and clearly is trying to camouflage, hoping that it may not be exposed. There is no case for her except to resign," Karat said.

Indicating there would be no let up in Congress's onslaught on the Modi government, another Congress spokesman Anand Sharma said," She (Raje) and the BJP ministers who have been exposed or have been accused of acts of omission and commission will have to go."

"For an absconder from law, you secure travel documents of a country, they all have to go," Sharma, a former Union minister, said.

Former Rajasthan Chief Minister and Raje's long-time rival Ashok Gehlot said,"The true character has been revealed and what kind of letter has been written. Money has also been transferred through hawala.

"There is an open corruption and, if Vasundhara is a model to bring back  black money, then Arun Jaitley's model has failed. It is a testing time for Narendra Modi and we will be waiting for his action," he said.

Eminent lawyer and former AAP leader Prashant Bhushan said Raje's position had become "untenable" from the time Lalit Modi tweeted and gave the evidence that she had signed the affidavit in her favour and that it should be kept secret.

"You do such a thing when you think that you are doing something which is not legitimate," Bhushan said.

AAP leader Ashutosh said there was "no room left" for Raje in the BJP after fresh revelations in the murky episode. "She should resign because it is an open and shut case," he said.

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