The Congress on Monday sought to drag the Prime Minister into the Lalit Modi controversy, citing purported emails from the former IPL chief claiming he was “very close” to Narendra Modi, who was then the Gujarat CM.
Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal alleged that Lalit Modi had tried to help two industrial houses -- Adani Group and Videocon -- in getting IPL franchises when Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, who is the BJP chief, were president and vice-president of the Gujarat Cricket Association in 2009. The BJP dismissed the charges as baseless and mere sensationalism.
Addressing a news conference, Sibal alleged that tendering process was manipulated to favour the industrialists but the Board of Control for Cricket in India governing council cancelled it after receiving complaints.
The former law minister also alleged that Lalit Modi along with Gautam Adani met Narendra Modi and Shah in February 2010.
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An inquiry committee under Arun Jaitley had held that the objective of Lalit Modi was to “restrict the number of bidders” to favour the industrialists.
“There was some quid pro quo. That has to be investigated. And obviously at that point of time, Modi and Shah were chief minister and home minister, respectively, and they were using their authority as public servants to grant favours. That is a very serious matter,” Sibal alleged.
He also cited a BCCI disciplinary panel report that said the bidding process for two franchises was designed to favour Videocon and Adani groups by incorporating two “onerous conditions” -- a bidder should have a networth of $1 billion and should give a bank guarantee of Rs 460 crore.
The Congress has accused the senior BJP leaders including external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj of helping the fallen cricket czar. The party has been disrupting Parliament over the issue as well.
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“We always wondered as to why the Prime Minister is silent on the Lalit Modi controversy. So we dug a little deeper and found the reason.”
Asked if Swaraj had acted at the behest of the PM, Sibal said, “I do not say that. All I said is that Prime Minister knows about all this. That is why he is silent… he would have known about it because he is not a stranger to Lalit Modi. That is all that we are saying.”
The Prime Minister’s office refused comment while the government dismissed the claims as “baseless and unfounded”.
Union minister Prakash Javadekar said the Congress was resorting to “sensationalism by levelling such untrue, baseless and unfounded allegations” and it showed the Opposition party’s frustration.
“If Congress has started depending on Lalit Modi’s tweets and emails, then it should also respond to these tweets. It just shows the desperation of Congress that Rahul Gandhi makes untrue and baseless allegations in the morning, and then in the evening, they level more baseless charges,” he said.
The minister was referring to Lalit Modi’s tweets on meeting Priyanka Gandhi in London and the purported offer by a “relative” of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi to get him out of all criminal cases if he was willing to pay up.
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