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Raje left to fend for herself in Lalit Modi visa row

Modi consults colleagues to discuss strategy amid mounting pressure

Image Credit: PTI
Youth Congress members being detained by the police during their protest against union Minister SushmaSwaraj at Teen Murti in New Delhi.
Gulf News

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday held a meeting with his home minister Rajnath Singh to discuss the strategy to deal with the emerging situation in the Lalit Modi visa row.

The opposition Congress party has been demanding resignations of foreign minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje for going out of their way to help the former Indian Premier League boss Lalit Modi.

The Congress party has also been trying to implicate Prime Minister Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah, accusing them of being close to Lalit Modi and giving their tactical support to Swaraj who recommended the British authorities to provide him travel documents to attend to his ailing wife in Portugal while his Indian passport was cancelled.

The two leaders discussed the possibility of moving to the Supreme Court challenging the Delhi High Court decision of August last year to restore Lalit Modi’s passport which was revoked by the previous Manmohan Singh government in March 2010.

It is understood that a decision was taken to become aggressive and turn the table on the Congress party. Subsequently, federal minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy dismissed the demand for resignation of Swaraj and Raje saying the Congress party had lost all rights to question the government as Lalit Modi committed all alleged crimes while the Congress party was in power both at the centre and in Rajasthan.

While both the government and the BJP have been backing Swaraj ever since the news broke out on Sunday, the BJP had left Raje to fend for herself.

However, reports that Lalit Modi may have purposely dragged Raje into the controversy to settle scores with her is believed to have forced premier Modi to change his mind and get Rudy to reject demand for her resignation too.

Modi claimed in a television interview on Tuesday that Raje had signed a document supporting his application to the British authorities for his travel document with secrecy clause that it should not be revealed to the Indian authorities. The documents, Modi said, were never presented to the British authorities.

Raje on her part admitted being a family friend but denied having signed any such document.

Lalit Modi was seen as acting as the super chief minister of Rajasthan and issuing direct instructions to senior bureaucrats misusing his proximity with Raje during her first tenure as the Rajasthan chief minister between 2003 and 2008.

He, however, turned vindictive when Raje distanced herself form the ex-IPL boss in the run up to 2013 Rajasthan state assembly elections and refused to even consider his recommendations during allocation of BJP nominations for assembly polls.

Media reports had initially suggested that Raje was left to fend for herself as they had no idea about what Raje may have done while she served as leader of opposition in Rajasthan as also the fact that she lobbied hard for induction of her parliamentarian son Dushyant Singh as a minister in the Narendra Modi government denial of which soured ties between Prime Minister Modi and Raje.

The August 2011 document of Raje recommending his migration to the United Kingdom was released to the media by the public relations company handling Lalit Modi’s publicity, making it clear that in order to save Swaraj he was trying to drag other leaders purposely and in the process settle scores with Raje.

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