New Delhi: The Congress on Monday dragged Prime Minister Narendra Modi into the controversy over travel documents given to Lalit Modi, arguing that the prime minister must have been aware of the help being extended to the former IPL commissioner.
"For a prime minister who single-handedly runs the external affairs ministry, it is hard for us to believe that the prime minister did not know that active help was being extended to Lalit Modi," Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said at a press conference here.
"Not only did Lalit Modi have a relationship with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, but also with the prime minister and BJP president Amit Shah," he alleged.
Surjewala posed 11 questions to the government, including one on what relationship the prime minister and the BJP president have with Lalit Modi.
He said Sushma Swaraj admitted that not only she knew Lalit Modi but used to talk to him over phone.
"Maybe that is the reason the decision of the UPA government to act against Lalit Modi was overruled by the external affairs minister," he said.
"It is unprecedented that written communication establishes a quid pro quo between the criminal in question and the minister," the Congress spokesperson added.
The controversy over Sushma Swaraj's help to Lalit Modi erupted after Britain's Sunday Times reported an e-mail exchange between influential Indian-origin Labour MP Keith Vaz and head of UK Visas and Immigration Sarah Rapson, citing the external affairs minister, to facilitate travel documents for Lalit Modi.
Sushma Swaraj on Sunday said she helped Lalit Modi on "humanitarian grounds" over treatment for his cancer-afflicted wife in Portugal.
Earlier, Congress leader P.L. Punia termed Sushma Swaraj's excuses "totally bogus".
"The way Sushma Swaraj has gone about the issue, it is not in the national interest. Her excuses are totally bogus and one not standing scrutiny of facts. As per Portuguese law, it is not required to obtain the signature of the husband for any surgical operations," he told reporters.
Punia said Sushma Swaraj went out of her way to provide Lalit Modi with help.