Sushma tries to corner Cong over Santosh Bagrodia, ex-MoS hits back

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jul 22, 2015 12:00 IST
External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj at the Parliament house on the opening day of the monsoon session, in New Delhi. (Arvind Yadav/HT Photo)

External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday alleged that a senior Congress leader approached her for a diplomatic passport for coal scam accused Santosh Bagrodia prompting the former minister to retort that his name was unnessarily being dragged in.

In a series of tweets, Swaraj, who is facing opposition heat for allegedly supporting tainted former IPL chief Lalit Modi's bid for British travel papers, said she will reveal the name of the Congress leader in Parliament.

"A senior Congress leader was pressing me hard to give diplomatic passport to the Coal Scam accused Santosh Bagrodia...I will disclose name of the leader on the floor of the House," she tweeted.

Shortly afterwards, Bagrodia hit back saying that he himself had approached the foreign minister for a diplomatic passport.

"I am eligible for a diplomatic passport. I can't see why my name is dragged into this, " Bagrodia told India Today TV.

Former minister of state for coal Santosh Bagrodia has been summoned by the special CBI court as accused in connection with the allocation of Maharashtra’s Bander coal block to AMR Iron and Steel Pvt Ltd.

The special CBI judge took cognisance of the alleged offences punishable under sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy) read with 420 (cheating), 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant) under the IPC and under relevant provisions of the Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act.

In an earlier order in January the court had observed that Bagrodia along with ex-coal secretary HC Gupta and retired public servant LS Janoti had allegedly committed criminal misconduct and facilitated accused firm AMR Iron and Steel Pvt Ltd in unlawfully obtaining the coal block.

Swaraj's counter-attack comes at a time when the opposition led by the Congress has been demanding her resignation for helping Lalit Modi, who faces an Enforcement Directorate probe over alleged money laundering and forex violations.

The cricket czar had revealed that Swaraj helped him get temporary papers to travel from London to Portugal to treat his ailing wife when his Indian passport was revoked by authorities. Modi used the British papers to travel to other destinations, sparking outrage in India.

On Tuesday, the Congress disrupted Rajya Sabha over the issue on the opening day of the monsoon session. It rejected the government's offer of a debate, saying Swaraj must resign first.

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