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Homechevron_rightOpinionchevron_rightEditorialchevron_rightDowning national...

Downing national interests

Downing national interests

The BJP government is facing trouble following accusations of backing the Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj who triggered a controversy by doing undue favours to the former Indian Premier League (IPL) Chief Lalit Modi in procuring his British travel documents.

The episode was first leaked out by the British media which revealed that Sushma put pressure on British MP, Keith Vaz, to obtain travel papers for Modi to visit Portugal for his wife’s cancer operation. When the British authorities expressed their concern that allowing visa to Modi would affect the diplomatic relations with India, the Minister assured them that there wasn’t scope for any such anxiety. She admitted that she had helped Modi on ‘humanitarian grounds’ as he was needed for the treatment for his cancer-stricken wife. She apparently, has got a strong backing from the BJP Ministers including Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who termed the allegations against her as "baseless". Former Union Ministers Rajnath Singh and Venkaiah Naidu also came forward to support her. Sushma’s husband Kaushal Swaraj and daughter Bansuri Swaraj has also been dragged into the controversy. A criminal lawyer at the Delhi High Court and Supreme Court, Bansuri had appeared on behalf of Modi for all the crucial hearings related to the case. Kaushal Swarak has reportedly been Lalit Modi’s lawyer for 22 years and their companies have been collaborating with each other for years. Kaushal had also taken Modi’s help to gain an admission for his nephew at Sussex University in UK.

Lalit Modi, who founded the 20-20 set of matches, is wanted by the Enforcement Directorate for alleged financial bungling in the money-spinning IPL. After allegations of match fixing and illegal betting related to IPL cricket tournaments surfaced, he left for London in 2010. Even though Modi denied his wrong doings saying that he left India due to death threats, his passport was revoked by the government in 2011. He is also an accused in the Rs 1, 700 crore Hawala case. India had written twice to the British Government during the tenure of previous UPA regime to release Modi. Sushma’s intervention helped him to secure the travel papers to visit Portugal. The controversy has revealed yet another tight link between the government and the multimillionaire criminals. The Prime Minister has not reacted to the controversy so far. But the episode has surely led to rifts between the BJP factions. The Opposition has questioned the PM’s silence on the matter. The Congress has demanded Sushma’s resignation and a thorough investigation into the matter.

The Minister has neglected the national interests and given priority to personal affairs which has sparked the debates. She has misused the power to help an affluent criminal and it’s no matter of humanitarian consideration. The Minister should take up the moral responsibility for the matter and quit her post. The Hindutwa groups who frequently give promises and pledges of patriotism should keep their word.

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