oppn parties The Lalit Modi Affair: BJP Wrong in Backing Sushma & Raje

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Former Delhi CM and senior Congress leader Sheila Dikshit dies following a cardiac arrest. She was 81
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The Lalit Modi Affair: BJP Wrong in Backing Sushma & Raje

By Sunil Garodia

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.
After sifting through all the material in public domain, it is clear that impropriety amounting to corruption was committed by both Sushma Swaraj and Vasundhara Raje Scindia in helping Lalit Modi. The “I regularly help Indians abroad on humanitarian grounds” plea by the external affairs minister does not hold much water as there is a huge difference between helping a distressed commoner and a fugitive on the run.

Lalit Modi is nothing but a conman who has been trying to somehow give legitimacy to the financial jugglery he committed for benefitting himself and his circle of friends and acquaintances when he was the self proclaimed czar of the IPL. There is no doubt that he almost single-handedly made IPL the awesome brand that it is, but that did not give him the license to loot the tournament. The worst part was having committed felony, he ran away.

There was a look-out notice for Modi, forget the colour. Swaraj as the external affairs minister must have been aware of that. There was also a communication from the ministry (albeit during the UPA II tenure) that any help to the fugitive would ‘spoil’ Indo-UK relations. Despite this, Swaraj intervened in his case for travel papers by informing the UK authorities that relations will not be strained if help was provided to him. That, in effect, was Modi’s license to roam about the world and lead a freewheeling and bohemian life which a conman cannot.

Even if we forget about the conflict of interest in Swaraj’s daughter being on Modi’s legal team and the plain obligatory favour of her husband asking him to get his relative admitted in a UK college, the very fact that Swaraj helped Modi get travel papers from the UK government when his Indian passport was impounded amounts to nepotism not befitting a minister.

Vasundhara Raje’s impropriety was even greater. She signed court papers (as claimed by Modi and can be easily verified from the courts) to further his case for travel papers in the UK. Where was the pressing need to help a fugitive? It is clear that family friendship and past and maybe future favours expected were the guiding features why she helped. But politicians of her stature do not have the freedom to help a person accused of siphoning off huge funds abroad even if they are chaddi friends.

It is sad that politicians in India (as elsewhere) try to help friends on the wrong side of the law instead of asking them to come clean and promising help in legal procedures. It is one thing to provide help to a friend to fight his case and completely another to help him get away with his bounty. Lalit Modi was allowed to flee India (although that was during UPA II tenure and many Congress and UPA partner parties’ politicians are also involved) and then was allowed to roam about the world as if nothing had happened.

The government seems to be moving fast to contain the damage. But getting Modi back to India to stand trial for his misdemeanors will not lessen the charges against both Swaraj and Scindia. They have to face the consequences of their actions. But the BJP is adamant not to take action against them. In the process, the opposition will not let Parliament to function properly and important bills will get delayed. The nation will suffer due to the past follies of two important BJP leaders.