Lalit Modi’s revelation that Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje secretly supported his UK immigration application has swung the focus back on the relationship between her son Dushyant Singh and the former IPL chief.
Raje is known to harbour political ambitions for the 41-year-old Singh, the BJP MP from Jhalawar-Baran, and had even unsuccessfully tried to get him into the Union council of ministers.
Singh is also the owner of Niyant Heritage Hotels, which received Rs 11.63 crore during 2008-2010 from Modi’s Anand Heritage Hotels – a transaction now being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate because Modi paid 9,600 times the value of a share in Singh’s firm.
Singh, the titular king of Dholpur, is considered a reluctant politician in Rajasthan despite having been elected an MP for the third time last year. Political observers believe Raje has complete control over her son, who went to Doon School.
His wife Niharika — a Gujjar from the former principality of Samthar near Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh — was active during the 2007 Gujjar protests in trying to break the deadlock between the government and the agitators.
Insiders say Raje was keen to get her son into the Union council of ministers last year but Prime Minister Narendra Modi chose Nihal Chand Meghwal, the parliamentarian from Ganganagar, over him. Raje’s detractors in the state claim she has had a bad equation with the prime minister since then.
The financial dealings between Singh and Lalit Modi came into the open when Poonam Chand Bhandari, an advocate from Jaipur, reported it to the Enforcement Directorate.
Bhandari also filed a public interest litigation in the Delhi high court in November 2013 over the Rs 11.63 crore transferred by Modi’s Anand Heritage Hotels to Singh’s Niyant Heritage Hotels through Mauritius-based firm Wilton Investment Limited.
Raje has publicly acknowledged her ties with Modi’s family though it is known that they had a falling out before the state elections in 2013. During her first stint as chief minister, Raje’s government passed an ordinance that facilitated Modi’s rise in Indian cricket.
There are also reports that Modi ran the Rajasthan government by proxy, summoning bureaucrats with files to Rambagh Palace Hotel, where he stayed. Raje’s detractors say she still meets Modi in private and it is these links that could well come back to haunt the chief minister and her son.