Home minister Rajnath Singh met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday to discuss the fallout of the raging row over foreign minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje’s help to tainted former IPL chief Lalit Modi in a bid to stamp out the storm that has severely dented the BJP’s image.
Modi has been silent so far on the political scandal while most senior party leaders, including finance minister Arun Jaitley and BJP president Amit Shah, have thrown their weight behind Swaraj, who says she acted on humanitarian grounds to help Lalit Modi get UK travel documents when his passport was revoked so he could visit his ailing wife in Portugal.
The crisis involving a cabinet minister is a major embarrassment for the BJP-led government as it prepares for Bihar’s assembly elections and a crucial monsoon session of parliament with several pending key reform bills. The opposition wants both Swaraj and Raje to quit, saying the continuance of the two top BJP leaders has become untenable for helping the fallen former IPL boss, who is facing serious corruption charges, including money laundering.
Singh is said to have had a one-on-one meeting with Modi on the sidelines of a meeting of the Unique Identification Authority of India at the Prime Minister's Office and sources said the home minister and the Prime Minister are believed to have discussed the controversy involving Swaraj and Raje. However, details of their discussions are not known.
Though the BJP and the government have come out in full support of Swaraj, they have been more restrained in their defence of Raje, who has been accused of secretly helping him in his immigration.
The Congress ramped up its attack attack on Sushma and Raje and demanded the prime minister break his "meditation" and speak on the issue.
"The Prime Minister must answer whether the chief minister acted the way she did with his consent. Whether the external affairs minister did what she did with his consent? Are there other people involved, the Prime Minister must come clean. He must come out of his political Vipassana," said Congress spokesperson Tom Vadakkan.