New Delhi/Jaipur: Pressure continued on Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje to quit following charges of “financial dealings” with Lalit Modi but the BJP decided to defend her even as the controversy also shifted to Congress on Friday with the former IPL chief tweeting names of some top party personalities he had “met” recently.
Congress made fresh demands for Raje’s resignation citing an election affidavit of 2014 in which she had mentioned holding shares in company owned by her son Dushyant Singh alongside Lalit Modi.
With the allegations faced by Raje threatening to derail the monsoon session of parliament beginning next month as External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is also facing demands for her resignation over her help in getting British travel documents to Lalit Modi, who is being probed in India for alleged tax evasion, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party chief Amit Shah on the issue.
Party sources said the leadership has decided to back Raje while tightening the noose on Lalit Modi in the cases faced by him. It is learnt to have decided that Interpol will be requested to issue a ‘Red-Corner Notice’ against Lalit Modi to enable his arrest.
Meanwhile, providing a new twist, Lalit Modi tweeted on Friday that he had run into Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s daughter Priyanka and her husband Robert Vadra in a London restaurant last year, triggering demands from the BJP for an explanation from the Congress chief.
“Happy to meet the Gandhi family in London. I had run into Robert (Vadra) and Priyanka separately in a restaurant.” He said the couple was with Timmy Sarna, who is with DLF Brands Ltd. “If I remember correctly, it was last year and the year before. Doubt either reported it to anyone. They were in power then,” he said.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala defended the Vadras, saying: “Looking at each other in a restaurant is neither a crime nor morally improper.”
Spilling some more allegations on Twitter, Lalit Modi claimed he and senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal had sat and chatted for three days in Istanbul.”Did KAPIL Sibal a congress politician report we sat and ate and spoke at a wedding for 3 days in Istanbul,” he tweeted. Asked by twitterati if he had met Sibal when he was a minister in the Congress-led UPA, he said “No – he was not. He met few weeks ago. Just for information. Congress thinks I am a pariah that’s why I mentioned (him).”
The Congress kept up pressure for Raje’s resignation.
At a specially convened press briefing, Congress spokesperson Ajoy Kumar alleged Raje had “direct financial dealing with a fugitive”.
He claimed Lalit Modi and Raje had shares in Niyant Hotels Pvt Ltd, a company belonging to Dushyant Singh.
He also targeted Narendra Modi over allegations surrounding Raje, saying that “he had promised not to allow corruption”.
Congress also alleged that an agreement inked by Raje government with Portugal’s Champalimaud Foundation was “one-sided” and was a “quid-pro quo” but the BJP denied the charges.
Meanwhile in Jaipur, Rajasthan BJP chief Ashok Parnami and state minister Rajendra Rathore, referring to the immigration document cited by the Congress as evidence, said it only had Raje’s signatures on the last page and was signed when Lalit Modi had not been declared a fugitive.
“It is a draft (of deposition). It has no meaning. As a proof, it has neither benefited Lalit Modi or his family… the document has not been produced in a court by the chief minister,” Parnami said.
Rathore asserted the entire BJP in Rajasthan as also the central leadership were with Raje.
Raje’s office, for the second time in two days, issued a statement saying some channels were showing baseless, misleading and unsubstantiated reports.