Defiant Raje holds fort

Jaitley says BJP has no tainted leaders

Defiant Raje holds fort

As pressure escalated on the Centre to act against “tainted leaders” embroiled in the Lalit Modi controversy, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje showed no signs of bowing to the Opposition’s demand.  

A  statement issued by her office in Jaipur on Thursday evening denied media reports which suggested that her future as chief minister hangs in balance. The chief minister’s press adviser said: “By tarnishing or damaging her image, the channels are causing political damage to the chief minister...Electronic media should not air false news based on rumours. Such news are baseless and before running such news, a confirmation and investigation should be done.”

The statement also denied reports that the party central leadership has asked Raje to resign. Senior Union ministers were also back defending her on Thursday, after a day’s silence. While BJP chief Amit Shah refused to comment on the episode, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley gave a clean chit to leaders involved in the controversy. 

“Well, there is nobody who is tainted, please,” Jaitley told reporters. Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu hinted at a conspiracy to destabilise the government. “Some people are unhappy ever since Narendra Modi became prime minister as they are not able to enjoy the way they used to earlier,” said Naidu.

The Congress and Aam Aadmi Party continued to demand the Centre to sack Raje along with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who is also accused of helping disgraced former IPL chief Lalit Modi procure travel documents from UK authorities to visit his ailing wife in Lisbon. 

Raje has been accused of giving secret statement in support of Lalit Modi’s immigration application to the UK. There are also allegations that Lalit Modi invested Rs 11 crore in Raje’s son and party MP Dushyant Singh’s company. 

The BJP is in a fix as leaders debate the pros and cons of a change in Rajasthan, since the Opposition is now focussing more on Raje realising that she is in a more vulnerable position than Sushma. But BJP leaders are defending Raje on the ground that the statement was issued in her personal capacity, much before she took over the reins in Rajasthan.

Several party leaders, however, admitted that the Modi government’s image has taken a beating and are wary of succumbing to “media-driven campaigns and deadlines.”

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