Cong jumps to Priyanka, Robert's defence after Lalit Modi tweet

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jun 26, 2015 14:30 IST

The Congress hit back at Lalit Modi on Friday after the former cricket administrator tweeted he had "run into" Priyanka Gandhi and her husband Robert Vadra at a London restaurant, saying it was a case of 'chhota Modi' helping 'bada Modi' (Narendra Modi) with lies".

Chief spokesperson of the Congress Randeep Surjewala said Priyanka Gandhi and her husband did not interact with the former IPL boss and running into anybody in a restaurant was not a crime.

Surjewala said Lalit Modi was working at the behest of the BJP to divert attention to "non-issues" and reiterated the main opposition's demand for the resignation of external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje for their help to him.

Raje and Swaraj have been facing flak for helping Modi get British travel and immigration papers at a time he is wanted in India for alleged financial irregularities.

Sharpening the attack on the BJP, the Congress leader said it should tell its "black money stooges to not rely on red-herrings".

"I can say with full responsibility that neither Priyanka Gandhi nor Robert Vadra ever interacted with Lalit Modi socially. If you see somebody in a restaurant, it is not a crime. 'Chhota Modi' is helping 'bada Modi' with lies.

"The government should speak about real issue and not hide behind Lalit Modi," Surjewala said.

Lalit Modi tweeted on Thursday night: "Happy to meet the Gandhi family... in London. I had run into Robert and Priyanka separately".

The BJP's troubles exacerbated by Thursday evening as a signed letter of Raje backing Lalit Modi's British immigration application surfaced, denting the party's defence that there was no evidence in the case.

Surjewala said Swaraj and Raje helped a fugitive accused of "fraud of gigantic proportions" and noted how Swaraj spoke to the British envoy in India to help Lalit Modi without consulting with her ministry officials.

Read: 'Lalitgate': PM Modi has to choose between politics and governance

Raje, he added, gave an affidavit to the UK government in his favour with a condition that it should not be made known to Indian authorities. "The government must explain why they did it."

He also asked the Centre to release official communication of the interaction between then Finance Minister P Chidambaram and his British counterpart in which Chidambaram strongly pushed for deportation of Lalit Modi from UK to India.

Sources told Hindustan Times the BJP was worried how the situation would play out in the next three-four days because yielding to pressure to sack any of the controversy-hit ministers could push the BJP to a vulnerable position before the assembly elections in Bihar.

Read: Rumble in Rajasthan but Vasundhara Raje will have her say

Raje reaches out to party leaders for support

Jaitley on Lalit Modi row: 'Govt will play by rulebook'

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