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Sushma’s defence in Lalit Modi affair is hogwash: Congress


New Delhi, Aug 6: The Congress on Thursday described as "hogwash" External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj's claim that she helped former IPL chief Lalit Modi get British travel documents only because his wife was faced with a life-threatening situation.

"Her statement (in parliament) exposes her," Congress leader Anand Sharma told the media here, and charged her with impropriety and misuse of office besides a keenness "to help a person wanted by law agencies in India".

The minister's statement in the Lok Sabha on Thursday also contradicted what she herself had been saying since the affair led to demands for her resignation.

"Should a minister be clandestinely arranging or facilitating the issue of travel documents, the request for which was rejected earlier by British authorities?" Sharma asked.

"There was no life threatening situation" to Lalit Modi's wife, Sharma added, and went on to say that Lalit Modi, after getting the British travel documents, went on a virtual global tour.

The Congress leader said it would have been understandable if Sushma Swaraj had ordered the issue of Indian travel documents to Lalit Modi as he was — and remains — an Indian national.

"Why intervene voluntarily when the British government and their authorities have not asked the Indian government (whether to issue travel documents to Lalit Modi or not).

"And then to say 'I have made no recommendation', this is ridiculous."

Sharma said: "We are very clear that the prime minister cannot brazen it out by remaining silent. Accountability cannot have dual standards. There cannot be a different rule book for the Modi government and his ministers.

"We in the opposition are duty bound to enforce accountability. It is the PM and his government who are purely responsible for the disruption in parliament.

"The PM is complicit by silence. He is endorsing acts of … arrogance and obduracy which has caused the logjam in parliament."

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