Rajasthan chief Vasundhara Raje should step down, says senior Congress leader Ashok Gehlot, alleging that Raje’s Dholpur Palace deal and heritage haveli sell-offs in Jaipur also involved Lalit Modi money. A thorough probe will establish that, he says during an interview with Sachin Saini.
You raised the issue of Raje’s favouring Modi earlier also? Your take now..
Things get clear when you seek answer to one question--Why did she (Raje) sign a visa affidavit (to favour cricket tycoon Lalit Modi), (who faced a number of corruption charges linked to his stint as the IPL chief)? What was the thought behind it? Was she under some pressure or weakness?” It is a big crime as she was holding the post of the leader of opposition then.
Even during her earlier chief ministerial stint, she allowed Modi’s interference in official transfer and postings despite our objecting to it. But, unfortunately she considered us her enemies and not political opponents.
Now, she should resign on moral grounds (for favouring a man charged with corruption). (The party leadership) will have to take a decision on Raje today or tomorrow.
What have Dholpur Palace and heritage havelis got to do with Lalit Modi?
(Dholpur Palace is Vasundhare Raje’s family property. It was converted into a seven-star hotel in 2008. It is now being run by Niyant Heritage Hotel Private Limited.)
Let there be a probe into the palace deal and things will be open whose money is involved-- Lalit Modi’s or someone else’s. The heritage havelis near Amber were indirectly sold to Lalit Modi (in 2006, when Raje government was in power) at throwaway prices. During our (the Congress’s ) tenure, we repossessed the havelis as none came up to claim them. Let it be probed too (and the truth will come out).
How do you view the BJP’s silence on the Lalit-Raje issue?
It is mysterious. Narendra Modi won the Lok Sabha elections on the promise of fighting corruption and maintaining transparency. But, now they (the BJP leaders) are surprised as the corruption issues are cropping up within the party and hence the decision deficit within the party and its ideological torchbearer Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
At present, there is a huge commotion inside the BJP. Senior BJP leaders Yashwant Sinha’s “all above 75 are brain dead”, Lal Krishna Advani’s ‘emergency is still a possibility’ and Kirti Azad’s ‘asteen ka saanp’ comments are an indicator to this direction.
Your take on Rajnath Singh’s ‘no resignations’ statement?
Such statements only show that these people have no faith in democracy. Everything is in the open—the documents, the money transfer, a signed document of Raje (and yet such a rigid stand).
A bid to save her is the party’s internal issue. But, whosoever supports her will eventually get stuck.
What does the Congress plan now?
Our state party president Sachin Pilot has already stated that we will continue our protest and approach the Governor and the President of India on the issue.