New Delhi: The BJP on Friday came out in support of Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, who is facing allegations of testifying in favour of former IPL chief Lalit Modi's British immigration application in 2011, even as the Congress kept up pressure for her resignation and its attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Bharatiya Janata Party, after a meeting between Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah on Thursday evening, decided to staunchly support Vasundharar Raje and reject demands for her resignation.
The party has already shot down demands from the Congress for resignation of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj, who had helped Lalit Modi to procure British travel documents on "humanitarian grounds" after his Indian passport was revoked. Lalit Modi is facing cases of alleged tax evasion.
The Congress, on its part, kept up its offensive, with former union minister Jairam Ramesh alleging "an unholy nexus between Chhota Modi (Lalit Modi) and Bada Modi (the prime minister)".
"The third protagonist in this nexus is Gautam Adani... when Modi became Gujarat Cricket Association president, he was part of it," Ramesh said at a press conference here.
"We expect the prime minister to speak after the Yoga Diwas - he is now sitting in a 'Lalit Asana where his ears, mouth and eyes are closed," Ramesh said.
He said the central government is caught in a trap of its own making and the only way it can save itself is by getting both Sushma Swaraj and Raje to resign.
BJP sources told IANS that in their meeting, Modi and Shah chalked out the strategy to counter the opposition after Shah presented the "facts" provided to him by Raje and it was decided to back Raje in the same way as the party and governments defended Sushma Swaraj.
Raje, who was scheduled to go to Anandpur Sahib for an event to mark the 350th anniversary celebrations of the foundation of the Sikh panth on Friday, cancelled her visit, citing health reasons.
She was to share the dias with Shah and union Home Minister Rajnath Singh. She called off her Ananbdpur Sahib visit after a call from Amit Shah's office.
Addressing press conferences in New Delhi and Jaipur respectively, BJP spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi and Rajasthan unit chief Ashok Parnami defended Raje.
"Vasundhara-ji has never denied her close family relations with Lalit Modi and the validity of those documents which were produced are yet to be verified," Trivedi said.
"It is not corruption either technically or legally... The opposition is not able to debate with government on positive issues, so they are blowing this out of proportion," he claimed.
Hitting back at the Congress, he sought to know under which government's rule did Lalit Modi's corruption come to light.
Rejecting Congress demand for Raje's resignation, he said that there is no truth in the charges against her. "Is there any substantive evidence? Is there any corruption?" Trivedi added.
Asked about allegations concerning business dealings between Vasundhara's son Dushyant Singh, a BJP legislator in Rajasthan, and Lalit Modi, he said that all these facts had been given in Income Tax returns and election affidavit are already in public domain.
On Sushma Swaraj, he said: "Our president has already said on the issue, which is the stand of the party. Union ministers Arun jaitley and Rajnath Singh has also clarified the stand."
In Jaipur, Parnami accused the opposition of "unnecessarily trying" to tarnish the image of Raje and Dushyant.
"Why these things are being raised before Bihar elections?" he asked.
Rajasthan Health Minister Rajendra Rathore, who also attended the press conference, said all the legislators and some Independents are fully supporting Raje.