Congress rejects Sushma's defence as 'tear-jerker' full of holes'

Congress rejects Sushma's defence as 'tear-jerker' full of holes'

Rejecting as "tear-jerker" Union Minister Sushma Swaraj's emotional statement on Lalit Modi controversy, Congress today said it was "puntured with multiple holes" and attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying he cannot "brazen up" it by remaining silent.

Party spokesperson Anand Sharma accused Modi and Swaraj of once again having "misled" the nation "shamelessly and unbashedly".

"You must have seen External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj's tearjerker. What we saw was an apology of defence. It is a hogwash which is difficult to accept. It is punctured with multiple holes and is contradictory.

"The basic question is: should a minister clandestinely arrange, facilitate or make requests for travel documents to a fugitive, which were rejected by the British government earlier," Sharma told reporters here.

He was reacting to the statement of Swaraj in the Lok Sabha in which she said that she had not helped Lalit but his cancer-stricken wife and questioned if Sonia Gandhi would have acted differently if faced with such a situation.

"His wife has been suffering from cancer for the last 17 years and it is the 10th time it has recurred... I want to ask what Sonia Gandhi would have done had she been in my place. Would she have left her to die?" Swaraj said.

Rejecting the defence, Sharma said that Modi government first "murdered" democracy by suspending 25 Congress MPs.

"The arrogance of power reached its zenith today when Modi government brazenly asked Foreign Minister Swaraj to explain away her unpardonable impropriety, willful lies, criminal intent, gross misuse of office and patent conflict of interest in garb or humanitarian grounds to help Lalit Modi-an Indian fugitive accused of black money laundering, hawala, match-fixing and rigging of contracts," he said.

Sharma said Lalit had admitted his request for travel documents was rejected by British authorities on July 3, 2014.

"By her own admission contained in her tweets dated June 14, 2015, Swaraj enabled the British government to give Lalit Modi travel documents. Obviously, Swaraj's intervention helped Lalit Modi get the travel documents by making the British authorities reverse their decision.

"She hid the fact that the the British government had earlier rejected Lalit's applications for travel documents. Did Swaraj respond after British government or its authorities asked her or the Indian government about it. What can be a greater recommendation (sifarish) than a minister on her own taking up a fugitive's travel document issue with foreign authorities," he said. 

Swaraj insisted in Lok Sabha that she had made "no request or recommendation" to the UK government for giving travel documents to Lalit Modi but had left the decision to Britain.

Swaraj, whose ouster is being demanded vigorously by the opposition leading to a deadlock in Parliament, made a statement with a preface in which she regretted that "her friends" in the opposition had been targeting her and were not even ready to listen to her version on the issue.

Sharma, however, rejected her arguments and claimed that efforts to help Lalit Modi began soon after Modi government came to power.

"One of the principal explanatioins given by Swaraj for helping Lalit was that Lalit had to give consent for surgey to his wife in Portugal. Documents reveal this claim is patently false. Patients' right in Portungal warrants that only patient had the right to decide to take or refuse treatment. A written consent is not required in Portugal at all," he said.

He also countered the External Affairs Minister's claims saying "Swaraj also explained that she was facilitating travel documents for Lalit for treatment of his wife. Keith Vaz, Chairman, Home Affairs Committee, House of Commons UK on the other hand stated that travel documents were required for attending a marriage and treatment of wife.

"At another place, he stated that documents were required by Lalit for marriage of his sister and meeting President of Seychellles. Which one of these contradictory versions is really correct? Is it not apparent that Swaraj and Vaz were trying to help secure travel documents for Lalit for conflicting reasons?"

Holding that Swaraj could not have done all this without Jaitley, collective responsibility of the Cabinet and knolwedge of the Prime Minister, Sharma said "the Prime Minister cannot brazen it up by remaining silent."

"Accountability cannot have double standards. There cannot be one rule for others and another for the Prime Minister and his Cabinet colleagues," Sharma said.

He claimed that UPA ministers were made to resign even when they were not complicit because running Parliament was considered greater than the interests of individuals.

"It is the Prime Minister and this government, which is completely responsible for disruption in Parliament. The Prime Minister is complicit by his silence in the entire episode. It is his arrogance and obduracy that is responsible for the logjam in Parliament," he said.

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