External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday told party MPs she had not violated rules when she told the British authorities that the ties between the two countries would not be affected if former IPL chief Lalit Modi was issued travel documents.
As the Opposition disrupted Parliament for the second consecutive day demanding her resignation, Swaraj, for the first time, gave her side of the story to the party lawmakers at a weekly meeting which was also attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP chief Amit Shah and many senior cabinet ministers.
Swaraj had found herself in the middle of a controversy when a British newspaper revealed that she had helped the fallen cricket czar obtain travel documents in the UK. It also emerged that her husband had been Lalit Modi’s lawyer for more than 20 years, inviting accusations of conflict of interest.
The minister, who spoke for about 20 minutes, said there was no “technical, legal or moral” violation in her telling the UK authorities that India’s relationship with UK would not be affected if Lalit Modi was granted travel documents as per British rules, sources said.
She had neither extended financial benefits to him nor helped him flee India. If given a chance to speak in Parliament, she would tear apart the Congress’ allegations. She also challenged the Congress to prove that there was quid pro quo with Lalit Modi.
The minister had tweeted on Tuesday and again said on Wednesday she was ready for a debate.
Swaraj also told party colleagues that a senior Congress leader was pressuring her to give a diplomatic passport to the coal scam accused and former minister Santosh Bagrodia.
In a tweet in the morning, the minister had threatened to reveal the name of the Congress leader on the floor of the House.
Swaraj also came out in defence of Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan who was recently forced to order a CBI probe into a multi-crore recruitment and admission scandal – popularly known as Vyapam scam -- that has rocked the state. Swaraj is an MP from Vidisha, which is in Madhya Pradesh.
Senior party leaders, including finance minister Arun Jaitley, asked the MPs to aggressively counter the Opposition’s alleged disinformation campaign about Lalit Modi issue and the Vyapam scam.
He told reporters that Swaraj, Chouhan and Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje did not violate any law. The party again said the three would not resign.
Two booklets on alleged corruption in Congress-ruled states and Vyapam scam “truth” were also distributed among the MPs.