Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje came to Delhi only for the Niti Aayog meeting and had no plans to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi or party chief Amit Shah over the controversy linking her to former IPL chief Lalit Modi, her office said in a bid to squelch speculation on the issue.
Raje, at the centre of a storm after it emerged that she signed an affidavit backing Modi’s British immigration appeal on the condition that her endorsement would be kept secret, flew in and out of Delhi on Saturday without an audience with the BJP’s top leadership.
It was earlier speculated she would meet the Prime Minister and Shah to explain her position amidst a growing clamour for her removal, despite the BJP standing firmly behind her and ruling out any action.
However, the party appears keen to insulate itself from any unexpected turns in the Lalit Modi row.
On Raje’s return to Jaipur, the Chief Minister's Office issued a statement that said she was in the national Capital for the NITI Ayog meeting and was not scheduled to meet anyone.
"Such news are untrue and beyond reality, hence before broadcasting and publishing any such news it is advised to confirm it from the sources," said the statement.
BJP leaders pushed the same line, saying a message was sent out that she need not meet senior BJP leaders in New Delhi.
“Like all other chief ministers, she came to attend an official meeting and, like others, returned after that. No other BJP CM met the PM or the BJP chief,” party secretary Shrikant Sharma said, seeking to dispel suggestions that Raje was snubbed.
Raje was in Delhi for more than three hours, spending most of the time at the NITI Aayog meeting and some time at her home in New Delhi.
Also read:NDA's new motto - say nothing, do nothing
BJP sources said finance minister Arun Jaitley — who separately met Prime Minister Modi and BJP chief Shah on Friday — went through documents related to Raje’s case and found nothing illegal in her dealings with Lalit Modi.
But the BJP is not confident about the genuineness of her parliamentarian-son Dushyant Singh’s business transactions with Lalit Modi, who invested heavily in his chain of hotels.
“In documents that we have seen, there is no case against Raje. There are some issues with her son’s case but they are not serious enough to attract disciplinary action. Let us see how things unfold in the coming days,” said a source.
For this sole reason, the source said, the BJP is trying to maintain a safe distance from Raje, so that an exit route is always ready if some clinching evidence crops up against her or Dushyant Singh.
Another BJP leader said a possible meeting between Raje and Prime Minister Modi or Shah would have unnecessarily provoked the Congress to target the party’s top leadership. The Congress is already targeting the Prime Minister for his silence on the Raje controversy.
The raging controversy is the first major political storm to hit the NDA government since it came to power with an overwhelming majority in 2014.