The Congress on Wednesday ramped up its demand for the resignation of Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje and external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, a day after controversial former IPL boss Lalit Modi claimed they helped him with his travel papers in UK.
Addressing a press conference, Congress spokesperson Shobha Oza said Modi's claims showed how BJP leaders were helping the former IPL commissioner stay in London when he faces serious charges of money laundering and forex violation in India.
"Prime Minister Narendra Modi's silence on the issue shows that there is a mute support from him to his leaders and Lalit Modi" Oza said.
The Congress spokesperson was responding to the cricket czar's interview to India Today TV on Wednesday, in which he said that Raje had agreed to secretly back his application for immigration to the UK in 2011, when she was the opposition leader.
“She openly agreed to be (a witness), but unfortunately by the time the case went to trial, she was already chief minister, so she did not come to become a witness. The statements she gave is all on records in the courts,” he said in the interview.
The claim came hours after Modi’s camp reportedly released a ‘witness statement’ purportedly signed by Raje under a condition of strict secrecy.
Modi also confirmed that he sought external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj's help for getting British travel documents to travel to Portugal and that he was close to her family.
Swaraj's help to Modi, first reported in the Sunday Times of London, has become an embarassment for the BJP with the opposition alleging a conflict of interest and gunning for her resignation.
In his interview, also dragged in the names of former union ministers Sharad Pawar, Praful Patel (both from the Nationalist Congress Party) and Rajeev Shukla (Congress) saying they too helped him get travel papers.
He also accused former finance minister P Chidambaram of pursuing political vendetta against him for his role in the resignation of Shashi Tharoor over the Kochi IPL team controversy.
Congress leaders however dismissed the allegations, saying the letters written to British authorities on Lalit Modi case during UPA rule would answer all these accusations.
"The complete answer to Mr. Lalit Modi's accusations against the UPA can be found in the letters to the UK Chancellor. Release them," Chidambaram tweeted.
Congress leader Digvijaya Singh, in a series of tweets, attributed the visa controversy to infighting in the BJP
"Would BCCI make public Arun Jaitley Committee report to inquire into rigging the bidding process of IPL which indicted Lalit Modi? This would unveil the mysteries of Lalit Modi's Powerful Connections," he tweeted
Living outside India for several years now, Modi faces 16 enforcement directorate cases and a light blue corner notice from the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence.
Video: I have known Lalit Modi's family, but don't know what documents are being talked about, says Raje