External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday dragged former finance minister P Chidambaram into the Lalitgate controversy saying he took “personal” initiative in trying to fix former IPL chief Lalit Modi.
Apart from that, Sushma also accused Chidambaram’s lawyer wife Nalini with getting Rs 1 crore from the Income Tax department in Sharada scam while he was finance minister.
Scoffing at Chidambaram’s clarification in Rajya Sabha when this matter was raised by an AIADMK member, Sushma asked how was it possible that the former minister would be unaware when the I-T department came under him.
“There is no conflict of interest in my case. My husband and daughter didn't take even a rupee in Lalit Modi passport case. There is a conflict of interest in P Chidambaram's case.
He was the finance minister when his wife Nalini Chidambaram was the lawyer in the Saradha chit fund scam case, whose file was with his ministry,” she charged while replying to an adjournment motion moved by Congress on “Reported involvement and admission of a Union Minister in assisting a fugitive and stand taken by Government".
As per a news agency report, Chidambaram has refuted Sushma’s charges.
Sources close to Chidambaram said his wife Nalini was engaged as senior counsel by the junior counsel of the Income Tax Department. She appeared for the department and not against the department. The engagement was without the finance minister's knowledge.
The CBDT issued a statement regretting the embarrassment caused by the engagement.
Answering to a question raised by Congress on why her ministry was not disclosing correspondence between Chidambaram and British authorities, Sushma said he did not give any letters to MEA and wrote on his own without taking then Manmohan Singh government into confidence.
Congress was divided on bringing back Lalit Modi and Chidambaram was “alone” in his party in wanting action against him due to his “personal enmity”. She also said Chidambaram is still prodding Congress to rake up the issue and had framed seven posers Mallikarjun Kharge raised in the House.
Sushma also said that the UPA minister had failed to bring back Lalit Modi from London as he did not try for his extradition as suggested by the UK government and confined his requests to deportation which could not happened.
“For four years, you (Congress government) did nothing. You remained inactive. There was no effort for extradition. You are asking me how he (Lalit Modi) got right of residency (in UK). He got it during your time. Whatever happened, it was during your tenure,”she told the Congress.