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Maharashtra: State ED top officials targeted officer who busted cricket-betting racket: Babus

dna is in possession of internal ED correspondence which shows Naqvi was also repeatedly told by those handling investigations about how services of hawala scam accused Afroz Fatta (arrested for funding the Mujahideen) and his network were used to siphon off money out of India from the Rs20,000 crore UCO Bank scam.

While the UCO bank scam has blown the lid off the rot in the Enforcement Directorate (ED), it is now emerging that its western region (Maharashtra, Goa and Gujarat) special director Sajjad Wasi Naqvi and additional director Virendra Ojha were directly involved in orchestrating complaints against JP Singh, a 2000 batch IRS officer at the customs and excise wing. The complaints by the bookies had led to a CBI probe on September 23. The union finance ministry has taken a very dim view of this and asked for both officers to be sent back to their parent cadres.”As joint director with the ED, Ahmedabad, Singh was on the verge of breaking the back of the cricket-betting and hawala mafia,” said a top finance ministry bureaucrat. “The CBI probe based on these complaints found no basis to the allegations of irregularities against Singh. The FM has already expressed extreme unhappiness with both these officers deliberately mishandling or going slow on several high-profile cases — IPL team forex violation, Lalit Modi deportation, KKR and Mumbai Indians forex violation, betting scam, Maharashtra Sadan scam, Louis Berger Goa scam.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The bureaucrat said alarm bells went off in the ministry after investigations in the cricket-betting racket busted by the Ahmedabad ED — which saw 10 arrests and five arrest warrants being issued, properties of several bookies being attached and action being taken against www.betfair.com that helps funnel thousands of crores of rupees out of India annually — began to be wilfully run aground.”The ease with which several notorious bookies began getting bail since the probe against Singh and his team has not gone unnoticed. Now, there is no one left to brief the public prosecutors and oppose bails to the bookies.Last week, one of the most notorious bookies Mukul Sharma, who had more than 300 accounts on Betfair.com, was also successful in getting bail, within seven months,” he added.dna is in possession of internal ED correspondence which shows Naqvi was also repeatedly told by those handling investigations about how services of hawala scam accused Afroz Fatta (arrested for funding the Mujahideen) and his network were used to siphon off money out of India from the Rs20,000 crore UCO Bank scam.From the time Naqvi came under the glare, two cartons of documents have been ferreted out of his office, said staff at the ED office.Emboldened by the finance ministry tightening screws on Naqvi-Ojha duo “who ran the western region ED office in Mumbai like their personal fiefdom”, many are now opening up to reveal their wrongdoings. “Investigating officers repeatedly pointed out how the UCO Bank scam should be investigated under more stringent non-bailable provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. But both Ojha and Naqvi insisted on continuing investigations under the milder FEMA,” said a source in the Mumbai ED who added, “This despite clear links with terror-funding networks being pointed out!”The source also called attempts by Naqvi and Ojha to a repatriation request to ED’s Delhi headquarters laughable. “They are trying to save face by claiming this. How can there be an honourable exit considering the quantum and severity of their wrongdoings?” the source asked. “Deliberate and planned ineffective supervision and their familiarity with several high-profile accused is now coming back to haunt them. Their attempts in Delhi to peddle their innocence were only met with an ice cold response.”Both Ojha and Naqvi did not respond to calls and texts. Suspicions galoreOn November 12, when actor Shah Rukh Khan, who co-owns KKR, was in ED office for over three hours to record a statement in connection with alleged irregularities in the sale of shares of Knight Riders Sports Pvt Ltd to a Mauritius-based company, Naqvi was only overtly friendly with him but let him smoke in his cabin.ED’s file on Lalit Modi case had mysteriously gone missing, leading to a complete standstill in the matter. Following the eruption of a controversy over external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj allegedly favouring grant of travel documents to Lalit Modi, this file was hurriedly re-created.The hurry with which Naqvi tried to scuttle investigations into a forex scam involving an Italian Arnaz Romalo Francorsi is also suspect.

With Interpol refusing to budge, India takes diplomatic route to get Lalit Modi extradited

The MHA in consultation with the external affairs ministry has given a go-ahead to the agency for further course of action.

Lalit Modi

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With Interpol inordinately delaying issuing red corner notices (RCN) against former commissioner of Indian Premier League (IPL) Lalit Modi, the government has now turned to the diplomatic power. The ministry of external affairs (MEA) has cleared the ‘extradition request’ against Lalit Modi sought by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with the alleged money laundering. The decision has been taken under the provisions of the extradition treaty existing between India and the United Kingdom. Extradition is the legal process that involves transfer of a suspected or convicted criminal by a country to another.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> ED has been making constant efforts to make Interpol to act, since September. A source in ED confirmed to dna that the extradition request has been cleared by the MEA and has been resent to the enforcement agency to take it forward. On November 13, the ED had moved a formal request to the ministry of home affairs (MHA) for initiating extradition proceedings against Modi based on a non-bailable arrest warrant against him. “In a request to ministry, the probe agency has clearly mentioned that the convict they are looking for is in the UK,” an official told dna. The MHA in consultation with the external affairs ministry has given a go-ahead to the agency for further course of action. Under the extradition proceedings, the enforcement sleuths have to approach Prevention of Money laundering (PML) court for issuance of a legal extradition order against the suspect/accused. In this case, once the court issues the order, the ministry concerned will send it to the UK government. Sources said the fresh move would compel the UK government to implement the legal request and deport Modi. “If Interpol issues RCN, it would help agencies to restrict Modi’s movement across the world. Even if it does not, we will have the extradition order to get him back,” said the ED source. dna has learnt that at this point of time, ‘extradition’ is important because the international police organisation is unlikely to issue the RCN easily. In its fourth communication to ED in the first week of November, Interpol wanted the case details to be handed over to Modi as part of his fundamental rights. The Mumbai ED refused to part with any legal document against Modi as they feared that he would find some way to scuttle deportation. Even on the three previous occasions, Interpol raised “frivolous queries” delaying Modi’s deportation. ED has been probing Modi, the IPL and its executives for alleged violation of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The case relates to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), which had awarded a 10-year media right to WSG for $918 million. WSG then entered into a deal with MSM to make Sony the official broadcaster. The contract was replaced later with a nine-year deal, where MSM paid $1.63 billion.

Modi in Malaysia: PM says corruption being eliminated, Congress promptly hits back

Congress on Sunday latched on to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks in Malaysia on the issue of corruption to rake up the Lalit Modi controversy over which it is seeking resignations of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje.

Narendra Modi

Congress on Sunday latched on to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks in Malaysia on the issue of corruption to rake up the Lalit Modi controversy over which it is seeking resignations of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje.Addressing the Indian diaspora on the second day of his three-day visit to Malaysia, Modi said, “We are eliminating corruption at all levels and making governance driven by policy and systems not discretion of individuals.” In response, Congress tweeted, “He didn’t utter a word when Smt Swaraj & Smt Raje helped a fugitive. #ModiInMalaysia talks about Corruption! Ironic!” The party also used a quote of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru to take a jibe at the Prime Minister for his assertion that since his government entered office 18 months ago, no region has seen greater engagement from India than Asia Pacific and Indian Ocean Region.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The person who always talks about his virtues, is in reality, has less of them,” the party said in Hindi quoting Nehru. Senior Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said that such comments not only insult the office of the Prime Minister but also the grandeur of the country and asserted that India, with all its fault and shortcomings, has evolved from 1947 to 2015 and every person has contributed to that. “Whenever he (Modi) speaks, he underlines the assumption that India was born and grew up from adolescence to youth to old age and achieved everything in 18 months. Neither any good thing existed prior to May 2014 nor are Indian achievements prior to May 2004 relevant to talk about.”It is regrettable that a person of the stature of Prime Minister can bring in such pettiness in every comment, even on foreign soil. It seems to have become DNA of the NDA. It seems to have become the inbuilt thinking process of the NDA,” he told reporters. “We will only pray with folded hands to the Prime Minister that you not only insult the office of the Prime Minster by saying such things, you also insult the grandeur of India.India with all its fault and with all its shortcomings has evolved from 1947 to 2015 and each one of has contributed. We all are proud of it,” Singhvi said. Congress also utilised a column of former Finance Minister P Chidambaram to “demolish” government’s claims on economy. “Economy is not where @narendramodi claims it is. Former FinMin @PChidambaram_IN demolishes Govt’s claims,” it said on the microblogging site.”The RBI statistics show Rs Vs Dollar was 54.41 in 2012-13. This year’s average is Rs 64.54,” it said. “India is today the fastest growing major economy in the world…We are running at 7.5 per cent per year, but will grow even faster in the coming years,” Modi said while addressing the Indian diaspora on the second day of his three-day visit to Malaysia.The AICC had made it clear last week that it had not given up on its demand for the resignation of Swaraj and Raje in the Lalit Modi controversy and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan in the Vyapam scam. While the Winter Session of Parliament is set to begin on November 26, the Monsoon session had been a virtual washout over the Congress demand.

Interpol demands ED consent to share documents with Lalit Modi

Despite ED’s several requests, international agency refuses to budge, continues to put stumbling blocks in ED attempts to deport LaMo

The Enforcement Directorate’s (ED) attempt to get the Interpol issue a red-corner notice (RCN) and subsequently get Lalit Modi deported from the UK has hit another stumbling block.The international agency has demanded a copy of the charge sheet filed in India against the Indian Premier League (IPL) kingpin and wants the case details to be handed over to him as part of his fundamental rights.However, on November 18, the Mumbai ED refused to part with any legal document or the charge sheet against Modi as they feared that he would find some way out of deportation.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>This is the fourth query from the Interpol to the CBI. A copy of the email dated October 27, in possession of dna, said: “In order to deliver its opinion on the case, the Interpol’s commission has to be in a position to invite Modi, who is aware of the RCN request, to provide his views on this request, to uphold the principle of due process and fair hearing, to preserve Interpol’s judicial immunity and to avoid any successful action of the individual regarding the violations by Interpol of his fundamental rights.”The email also sought the go-ahead from the National Central Bureau to authorise the commission to provide a copy of the arrest warrant and case details, which have been already submitted for the issuance of an RCN.”The ED reply would be the same – that Modi has no rights on internal investigation details,” said a source.Typically, the process of RCN takes no more than two weeks. But in the case of Modi, it appears that the international organisation is acting as his guardian, said a source.ED has been probing Modi, the IPL and its executives for alleged violation of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The case relates to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), which had awarded a 10-year media right to WSG for $918 million.WSG then entered into a deal with MSM to make Sony the official broadcaster. The contract was replaced later with a nine-year deal, where MSM paid $1.63 billion.Even on the three previous occasions, Interpol had raised “frivolous queries”, already delaying Modi’s deportation. ED sources have pointed out Modi’s political and international connections. He himself had given several examples of him being in touch with top political brass.The Interpol has, on its Website, spelt out the norms for issuing RCNs, which mandates only a non-bailable arrest warrant from a country.The ED suspects that the Interpol has adopted a go-slow approach. Since August, when the first appeal was made for issuing RCN, the Interpol has raised the same set of queries three times, each differently worded, said sources.On August 19, the CBI sent the required papers/documents to the Interpol to process the RCN. The very next day, ED was asked to explain the reasons for issuing the RCN.In September, the Interpol asked the CBI to establish the sequence and details of the three years of probe into the money-laundering case, since it was registered in 2012.ED was given a month’s time to respond on the second round of queries, which they had provided much before the deadline.In October, the ED received the third set of questions, more or less similar with the previous ones.Meanwhile, former Interpol chief Ronald K Nobel being defensive to Modi also gained a lot of attention when he clarified that Modi was never on the Interpol database and that allegations that he had removed Modi’s name were false.

Congress reopens Lalit Modi case; to move privilege against Jaitley & Swaraj for misleading Parliament

Party chief spokesman Randeep Singh Surjewalawaraj alleged that the government had deliberately started extradition proceedings against Lalit Modi instead of seeking his deportation

The Congress once again reopened ‘fugitive’ cricket manager Lalit Modi’s case accusing the government of ‘bundles of lies’, indicating that it will move privilege motion against external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and finance minister Arun Jaitley for misleading both Houses of Parliament.The party chief spokesman Randeep Singh Surjewala countered the government argument that no criminal case was registered against Lalit Modi to seek his deportation. He cited a money laundering case registered way back in 2012 to counter the claim perpetuated by both Swaraj and Jaitley in Parliament.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The party also released letters of P Chidambaram, he had written to his UK counterpart George Osborne in 2013. The government had refused to release these letters. Osborne letter confirms that his government had discussed the issue with the Indian High Commission in London, belying Swaraj claim that Chidambram had not kept the external affairs ministry in loop, while exchanging letters with his British counterpart. Chidambaram in his letter on August 21, 2013 had also clarified that India was not seeking the extradition of Modi, but deportation.Surjiwala further alleged that the government had deliberately started extradition proceedings against Lalit Modi instead of seeking his deportation. He said the government is rather helping Lalit Modi to escape the clutches of the Indian law and live a life of ultimate luxury. He flayed both Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj as both have been the lawyers and know very well that they are making a false alibi that Lalit Modi’s deportation is not possible.”By helping Lalit Modi get British travel documents on 01.08.2014 pursuant to request by Sushma Swaraj in July 2014, the Modi government ensured that no case for deportation survives against him,” Surjewala said, noting that the previous UPA government was pursuing his deportation which is a quick expeditious process as against extradition.He said both Jaitley and Swaraj know that the extradition process is lengthy enough to take 8-10 years by which time the public memory will fade away from the Modigate scandal and that is why the government refused to place in public documents various communications exchanged between then finance minister P Chidambaram and the UK government for Modi’s immediate deportation instead of extradition.Surjewala also challenged Jaitley’s false claim in Parliament that Lalit Modi can not be deported from UK since it requires a criminal case against him which did not exist. He cited the UK’s Immigration and Asylum Act, 1999, and its replacement by Immigration Act, 2014 to assert that there is no requirement for a pending criminal proceedings in the home country for an illegal immigrant to be deported from the UK.He said the UK has a law and policy to remove illegal immigrants not having valid travel documents and Chidambaram had specifically cited in one of his communications to the UK government about 2784 cases where “emergency certificates” were issued by the Indian High Commission in London in five years up to 2013 to facilitate deportation by the UK authorities. He alleged that deportation case against Lalit Modi was annulled when external affairs minister helped him to get travel documents.

Bring back Lalit Modi, sack Sushma Swaraj & Vasundhara Raje: Congress to PM Modi

Earlier today it was reported that UPA in 2013 had asked the United Kingdom to deport Lalit Modi. Former Finance Minister P Chideambaram had requested UK to deport him.

Surjewala charged BJP led government’s EAM Sushma Swaraj of hurting India’s case to get Lalit Modi back.

Congress spokesman RS Sujrewala has on Friday asked PM Narendra Modi to bring back Lalit Modi, the former IPL Chairman embroiled in allegations of money laundering. “PM should tell us when he will get Lalit Modi back into the country,” he said.Earlier today it was reported that UPA in 2013 had asked the United Kingdom to deport Lalit Modi. Former Finance Minister P Chideambaram had requested UK to deport him as he had a lot of cases pending were against him. “UPA wanted Lalit Modi to be brought back so that his case can be expedited,” said Surjewala.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Surjewala charged BJP led government’s EAM Sushma Swaraj of hurting India’s case to get Lalit Modi back. “Our deportation case was annulled when our EAM helped him get travel documents.”We demand PM to give a statement on his ministers aiding Lalit Modi, for him to sack EAM Sushma Swaraj and Vasundhara Raje,” he added.

Raje’s plank to resurgence

Rajasthan has met with some success in its new drive against graft. Can it sustain the campaign or is it a move to divert attention from the Lalit Modi saga?

Sheena Bora case: Decision soon on Rakesh Maria’s role in Sheena Bora murder probe, say Maha govt officials

Maria was transferred from the post of Mumbai Police Commissioner on September 8 and promoted as the DG (Home Guards).

Rakesh Maria

With confusion still prevailing over the “supervisory” role assigned to former Mumbai Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria in the Sheena Bora murder case, a top state government official on Thursday said things would soon be made clear in this regard. “We will reveal the exact status of the Sheena Bora murder case at the right time,” the top home department official said on condition of anonymity. Maria was transferred from the post of Mumbai Police Commissioner on September 8 and promoted as the DG (Home Guards). Ahmad Javed, a DG-rank officer, was brought in his place, fuelling speculation that Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis was unhappy over Maria’s handling of the murder case. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>But as Maria’s transfer generated heat in the media and within political circles, Maharashtra government made a U-turn and announced the same evening that he would continue to supervise the murder probe. However, the actual role of Maria is yet to be spelt out in the case, addressing the legal and procedural issues involved. The official also said that Additional Chief Secretary (Home), KP Bakshi, had briefed Fadnavis on the issue and the latter had spoken to Maria and also briefly with Javed. “At the right time, the home department will clarify the matters regarding the probe,” the official said.As to reports that Fadnavis was also upset over Maria’s handling of some other recent cases like the Malwani hooch tragedy, which claimed over 100 lives, and his controversial meeting with former IPL chief Lalit Modi in London in July, 2014, the official said if that had been the case, the chief minister could have transferred him long back. “If the CM was unhappy, he could have transferred Maria much earlier and not waited for the Sheena Bora case to happen. He could have taken action over the Lalit Modi incident too,” the official said.Meanwhile, a senior police officer declined to comment when asked about reports that a former SP in Raigad district had prevailed upon the then investigating officer to not file an FIR or ADR following the discovery of charred human remains in the forests in Pen taluka. “Only my seniors can apprise you of the issue and I am in no way concerned to be briefing you about the case”, said the current Raigad SP, Suvez Haq.Indrani Mukerjea, wife of media baron Peter Mukerjea, was arrested by Khar Police on August 25 over her alleged role in the murder of Sheena Bora, her daughter from an earlier marriage, in 2012. Sheena, 24, was allegedly kidnapped from outside National College in the western suburbs. She had come to Mumbai from Assam in 1990s along with Indrani and completed a BA in Economics from St Xavier’s College. According to police, in 2011, Sheena got a job with Reliance Mumbai Metro, but suddenly stopped coming to duty. The same year, her Facebook account was deactivated.Police had unearthed a decomposed body three years ago after villagers at Gagode in Pen tehsil complained of a foul stench in the area.

The way he took personal interest in Sheena Bora murder case, Rakesh Maria was asking to be axed

Rakesh Maria was seasoned enough police officer to know the problem of mixing up personal priorities with professional duties. A 1981 batch IPS officer, Maria was indiscreet  on many counts.

Maria’s evinced deep personal interest in the Sheena Bora murder case like we have not seen the boss of any other metropolitan police force do in any other part of the country in recent memory.

His proximity to Peter Mukherjea and his family is well known in the media circles, especially Page 3 circles.

But getting close to a case, in which he should have actually kept an arm’s length, was not his only indiscretion. He took personal involvement to another level. He personally interrogated the accused, a job that is left to the lowly IO (investigating officer). As if that was not enough, Maria, known for his penchant for media spotlight, briefed the media personally on a regular basis as if the Sheena Bora murder case was the end of crime in Mumbai.

Former Mumbai Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria. PTIFormer Mumbai Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria. PTI

Former Mumbai Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria. PTI

He rightly earned the ire of political bosses who were certainly aware of Maria’s overzealous interest in the case. But it would be wrong to assume that the Sheena Bora murder case only sealed his fate. His name evoked frowns from political masters over his meeting with Lalit Modi in London. Though he was spared because the Lalit Modi case embroiled many top leaders, Maria was put on watch. The Sheena Bora murder proved a catalyst in his ouster.

Perhaps Maria would have done better if he had exercised caution as better part of valour. He would surely have been aware of how CBI director Ranjit Sinha was put in the dog house by the courts and the government for mixing up the private and the official. Sinha was accused of giving private audience to certain accused in the garb of ‘setting a thief to catch a thief. The Supreme Court did not think much about Sinha explanation and said he had no business to be in touch with the accused without the knowledge of the investigating officer.

So what caused Maria to take such keen, almost overzealous interest in the case? When was the last time that a police commissioner sat personally in a 12-hour interrogation of the prime accused? I remember a conversation I had with a former crime branch joint commissioner when the police arrested Bollywood producer Bharat Shah for his alleged links with the underworld. I asked this officer the following day (after Shah was in custody overnight) if he had met/interrogated Shah. He laughed In my face. “I will never give an accused the dignity of such a meeting. Nobody other than the investigating officer will even see him in lock up.”

That’s how normal interrogations and investigations proceed. So what was so special about Sheena Bora case? Why was Maria so interested in it to take out so much time personally as if nothing else mattered which led to an open rebuke from the Chief Minister that while he appreciated the progress in this case, he would like that the police to gave such priority to all criminal cases?

Why did Maria announce that he would file the chargesheet before september 30, the date he was supposed to be elevated to DG and moved out of Mumbai police HQ? What was the great hurry? Did he not trust his successor to do a good job? Or did he have some special interest? These and many more questions will haunt Maria in time to come.

Lalit Modi row is a fallout of Sushma-Jaitley tussle, says Congress leader Digvijay Singh

He said even a blue corner Interpol notice has been turned into a red corner one against Lalit Modi, the former Indian Premier League (IPL) commissioner, due to Jaitley’s intervention.
File Photo
dna Research & Archives
Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh on Tuesday said the Lalitgate scandal was the fallout of a tussle between External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.”The Lalitgate scandal is a fallout of a tussle between Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley,” Singh told reporters. He said even a blue corner Interpol notice has been turned into a red corner one against Lalit Modi, the former Indian Premier League (IPL) commissioner, due to Jaitley’s intervention.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The Lalitgate scandal has its genesis in the fight between the two camps in the BCCI. One group hacked the other group’s emails and vice-versa, resulting in the scandal getting exposed. The whole issue started with a BCCI committee headed by Jaitley which recommended strong action against Lalit Modi in the IPL scandal,” he said.”Jaitley has never defended Lalit Modi,” Singh said, to prove that it was a tussle between Sushma and Jaitley. Singh also alleged Lalit Modi is vocal on the IPL issue at the behest of “Bade Modi” (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) while answering a query about whether there was any connection between Lalit Modi and Narendra Modi, since Narendra Modi was president of Gujarat Cricket Association when he was Gujarat Chief Minister.Referring to Jaitley’s remark that obstruction and disruption in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha is “anti- development” and “anti-growth”, the Congress General Secretary said when the previous UPA government was in power, Jaitley used to say that disruption is a “legitimate parliamentary practice”.Referring to Vyapam scam probe, Singh said according to a laboratory report, the Microsoft Excel sheet file recovered from the computer of one of the prime accused who is currently in jail, had been tampered with. He said that he has written to the CBI director to do a fair investigation into it.Singh also demanded that students and parents who were jailed should be made approvers as it was done in the case of former Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Choutala in the contractual teacher recruitment scam.Speaking about the BJP’s victory in the recent local body elections, Singh said that the BJP is celebrating its win as if it recieved a clean chit in the Vyapam scam.”In local body elections, it is seen that generally the ruling party wins. Even the Congress won when such polls when it was in power,” he said, adding that the “BJP won the polls by hook or crook”.

Lalit Modi dares CBI to issue red corner notice, claims BJP, Congress together targeting him

Ex-IPL commissioner and fugitive Lalit Modi on Wednesday dared the CBI to issue a red corner notice against him.

Ex-IPL commissioner and fugitive Lalit Modi on Wednesday dared the CBI to issue a red corner notice against him.In an interview with Rajdeep Sardesai, Modi claimed that Interpol had informed him there was no red corner notice against him, and that he would be allowed to represent his case. Modi denied he had ever received summons from an Indian court and inferred that there were no charges against him. He claimed that he had ignored a court notice only when asked to appear with a passport.Slamming Rahul and Sonia Gandhi, Modi smelt a conspiracy in the Parliament logjam. “For last 15 days Parliament has been stalled due to a non-issue, this is politically motivated. Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi should worry about Robert Vadra, 2G and other scams, and not about me,” he stated. Modi also claimed he had never met Rahul Gandhi, only other members of the Gandhi family. But interestingly, he claimed he had ‘powerful friends’ in the previous government.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Claiming a threat to life, the ex-IPL commissioner refused to return to India. Throwing out names, he said Arun Jaitley, Rajiv Shukla, Anurag Thakur and Jagmohan Dalmiya were a very powerful coterie. He called the cricket establishment in India a ‘mafia’, which is a hotbed of politics. Modi attacked BCCI, labeling all its committees a ‘sham’. He asserted that all BCCI committees had been formed to target him.Passing the buck, Modi said his family had taken RBI’s permission to buy shares in the company owned by Vasundhara Raje’s son Dushyant. He said his family ‘have a long association with the Scindia family’ and this cannot be termed a business relationship. “But if helping an ailing woman (his cancer-sticken wife) is conflict of interest, so be it”, he said angrily.Lalit Modi went on to accuse former UPA minister P Chidambaram of ‘asking for favours regarding the Chennai Open tennis championship.”Modi again reiterated that NCP chief Sharad Pawar ‘was on my side’ and once again dared the CBI to issue a red corner notice.The ex-IPL commissioner added that his lawyers would challenge any red corner. He said that certain leaders in BJP and Congress were ‘united by cricket’ and gunning for him.

Suspending MPs should not become a norm, says LS speaker Sumitra Mahajan in interview

Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said to India Today that Parliamentarians should learn to follow rules inside the House, after the monsoon session was washed out.

Sumitra Mahajan

PTI photo
Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said to India Today that Parliamentarians should learn to follow rules inside the House, after the monsoon session was washed out. Mahajan also clarified that suspending Congress MPs was necessary. “Congress MPs behaviour was disrespect to the chair and so i had to suspend them. They continued protest despite warnings,” adding that she may suspend MPs irrespective to parties. She bemoaned the situation and said suspendeing MPs should not become a norm.”Many other parties came to me and expressed concern over the ongoing logjam. They said that they wanted a discussion and wanted to know about the issue,” Mahajan said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Mahajan said she was relieved that at least after a complete washout, the Congress agreed to discuss the Lalit Modi issue.The Government on Wednesday tore tookk a no-holds barred approach against Congress for its allegations against External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in the Lalit Modi issue and ruled out her resignation. Sushma asked Rahul Gandhi to introspect on his father Rajiv Gandhi’s involvement in Bofors and his releasing of Warren Anderson, accused in the 1986 Bhopal gas tragedy.Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that the previous UPA government had not taken any concrete steps to bring back Lalit Modi for 4 years, and hence it was hypocrisy to now question the BJP. He also gave a legal defence of Sushma Swaraj’s position vis a vis the controversy.

Chidambaram rebuts Sushma Swaraj’s charge that his wife was involved in conflict of interest

The engagement was without the Finance Minister’s knowledge, says sources.

Chidambaram rebuts Sushma Swaraj’s charge that his wife was involved in conflict of interest

File Photo
Sources close to Congress leader P Chidambaram on Wednesday dismissed the charge of conflict of interest when his wife appeared as a senior counsel for the income tax department in 2004 when he was Finance Minister or when she took up the case of a woman in connection with the Sarada chit fund scam case. Sources close to Chidambaram said his wife Nalini was engaged as senior counsel by the junior counsel of the Income Tax Department.She appeared for the department and not against the department. The engagement was without the Finance Minister’s knowledge. The CBDT issued a statement regretting the embarrassment caused by the engagement, they said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>They also said Chidambaram made a statement in Parliament and tere was a discussion. At the end, the Speaker announced that the matter was closed. This was in 2004. It was never raised again. They were reacting to a statement in this regard by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in the Lok Sabha while she intervened during a discussion on the Lalit Modi controversy. The sources also said Nalini Chidambaram was counsel for a woman in a Saradha scam case. She advised her in a transaction that was being negotiated. Finally, she advised her client against going through with the transaction. This had nothing to do with the Finance Ministry or Chidambaram. All this was explained about 3-4 years ago by Nalini Chidambaram, they said and asked “Where is the conflict of interest?”

First revolt in Opposition ranks

SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav at Parliament in New Delhi on Monday

PTI
Coinciding with the first cracks in the Opposition ranks — with the Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav taking a different line on the continued disruption of monsoon session of Parliament — the Congress on Monday took its fight to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s doorsteps, beyond the demand of resignations of external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje.The party attributed the PM’s silence on the Lalit Modi issue to his alleged past “close relationship” with former IPL commissioner Lalit Modi, taking the battle too far, with no point of return.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Yadav, who expressed solidarity with Congress against the suspension of 25 of its MPs for unruly behaviour, said, “Enough is enough”. He told Congress that his party will not back disruptions in Parliament anymore. “We will not back you if you keep protesting,” he said.Undeterred, Congress, which has taken its political stakes too far, released documents to show there was a linkage between the former IPL commissioner and Gujarat Cricket Board. Party spokesman and former Union minister Kapil Sibal alleged that Lalit Modi had tried to help two industrialists, one of whom was from Gujarat, in getting them an IPL franchise when Narendra Modi and Amit Shah were president and vice president of the Gujarat Cricket Association in 2009.Sibal also did not spare finance minister Arun Jaitley. He said Jaitley was a signatory to the inquiry report dated June 10, 2013 and yet he did not file an FIR that would have exposed “the conflict of interest of his master (read Narendra Modi).” Meanwhile, in the wake of Samajwadi Party coming out to break the Parliament stalemate, the Congress leaders were quick to assert that they too want Parliament to function but for the adamant government. Topping all comments of Congress, its vice-president Rahul Gandhi said Parliament will start functioning the moment Sushma Swaraj disclosed money credited by Lalit Modi into her and her family’s bank accounts. “Please explain to the country and the people of India, how much money has been credited to you and your family’s bank account by Lalit Modi? Tell it straight, the House will function,” Rahul said while talking to reporters. He was hinting at Sushma’s daughter being lawyer of Lalit Modi who got him back his passport from Delhi High Court last year.BJP spokesman Shrikant Sharma said: “Rahul Gandhi is a brand ambassador of corruption, commission and bad governance. If there is any truth in the allegations he is levelling against Sushma Swaraj, then why is he running away from debating Parliament?” He asked Rahul to stop indulging in politics of mudslinging.In a related development in the Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley asserted that the daily agitation by the Congress in the House on Sushma issue was only a ruse to prevent passage of the Constitution Bill for ushering in the new GST (Goods and Services Tax).The Monsoon Session of Parliament, which ends in four days, has been gridlocked, forcing stalling of crucial legislations Last week, 25 Congress members of the Lok Sabha were suspended for five days for brandishing placards and rushing to the well of the House.

Lalit Modi close to PM Narendra Modi, BJP chief Amit Shah, alleges Kapil Sibal

Lalit Modi between 2010 & 2013 claimed in emails that he is close to PM Narendra Modi & BJP president Amit Shah, former Union Minister and Congress leader Kapil Sibal has said.

Kapil Sibal

PTI photo
Lalit Modi between 2010 & 2013 claimed in emails that he is close to PM Narendra Modi & BJP president Amit Shah, former Union Minister and Congress leader Kapil Sibal has said.Earlier, Rahul Gandhi on Monday said Congress will allow Parliament to function only after External Affair Minister Sushma Swaraj discloses her family’s financial transactions with Lalit Modi and hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for praising chief ministers of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan while remaining silent on their “illegal” acts.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Congress Vice President attacked Swaraj for being ‘secretly’ kind and charitable to Lalit Modi, whom he termed as a criminal, and asked her to tell the country how much money she and her family have ‘received’ in their bank accounts from the former IPL chief. “We also agree that Parliament must function. But, we have raised a basic issue. We have said, and I have said it three times, Sushma Swaraj ji, the chief minister of Rajasthan and the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh have carried out in some cases illegal acts. In Madhya Pradesh there are murders happening and our Prime Minister does not feel it necessary to comment on them.”He praises the chief ministers. He completely ignores the fact that the future of thousands of people in Madhya Pradesh has been destroyed by his chief minister. He completely ignores the fact that there is a business relationship between a criminal and his chief minister of Rajasthan,” Rahul said as the logjam in Parliament continued over protests by Congress. At a rally in Gaya yesterday, Modi had said Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan have come out of BIMARU category under BJP chief ministers and were moving fast on the path of development.Targeting External Affairs Minister Swaraj, Rahul said it “was nice to hear her speech in Parliament about how one should be very kind to Lalit Modi and should be charitable to him”. “You want to be kind, you want to be charitable, why do it in secret. Why hide, why not tell your whole Ministry, why not tell the whole country you are doing it,” he said. The Congress vice president said he has asked a specific question to Swaraj that there are financial transfers that have taken place between Lalit Modi, who is a criminal wanted by different agencies, and her family.”Please explain to the country and the people of India, how much money of Lalit Modi has come into your bank account and that of your family. Please simply disclose this and the House will function,” he said. Asked if Congress was isolated in Parliament due to its protests, he said, “We are not isolated”.Rahul also raised the issue of grant of special status to Andhra Pradesh, saying it is the right of the people of the state and the Centre must act fast on it soon. He also raised the issue of self-immolation by a Congress workers yesterday on this demand.”The Congress party is fighting for special status of Andhra Pradesh and it is very sad that the Government of India is ignoring what is the right of the people of Andhra Pradesh.”This is not a favour that is being done to the people of Andhra Pradesh. This was promised to them and it is about time Government of India takes action and delivers the special status to Andhra Pradesh,” he said. Congress MPs have raised the issue in Parliament by displaying placards while raising their demand in the din.

Parliament will function once Sushma Swaraj discloses financial transaction with Lalit Modi, says Rahul Gandhi

The Congress Vice President attacked Swaraj for being “secretly” kind and charitable to Lalit Modi, whom he termed as a criminal, and asked her to tell the country how much money she and her family have ‘received’

Rahul Gandhi (File picture)

PTI
Lalit Modi between 2010 & 2013 claimed in emails that he is close to Narendra Modi & Amit Shah, former Union Minister and Congress leader Kapil Sibal has said.Rahul Gandhi on Monday said Congress will allow Parliament to function only after External Affair Minister Sushma Swaraj discloses her family’s financial transactions with Lalit Modi and hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for praising chief ministers of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan while remaining silent on their “illegal” acts.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Congress Vice President attacked Swaraj for being ‘secretly’ kind and charitable to Lalit Modi, whom he termed as a criminal, and asked her to tell the country how much money she and her family have ‘received’ in their bank accounts from the former IPL chief. “We also agree that Parliament must function. But, we have raised a basic issue. We have said, and I have said it three times, Sushma Swaraj ji, the chief minister of Rajasthan and the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh have carried out in some cases illegal acts. In Madhya Pradesh there are murders happening and our Prime Minister does not feel it necessary to comment on them.”He praises the chief ministers. He completely ignores the fact that the future of thousands of people in Madhya Pradesh has been destroyed by his chief minister. He completely ignores the fact that there is a business relationship between a criminal and his chief minister of Rajasthan,” Rahul said as the logjam in Parliament continued over protests by Congress. At a rally in Gaya yesterday, Modi had said Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan have come out of BIMARU category under BJP chief ministers and were moving fast on the path of development.Targeting External Affairs Minister Swaraj, Rahul said it “was nice to hear her speech in Parliament about how one should be very kind to Lalit Modi and should be charitable to him”. “You want to be kind, you want to be charitable, why do it in secret. Why hide, why not tell your whole Ministry, why not tell the whole country you are doing it,” he said. The Congress vice president said he has asked a specific question to Swaraj that there are financial transfers that have taken place between Lalit Modi, who is a criminal wanted by different agencies, and her family.”Please explain to the country and the people of India, how much money of Lalit Modi has come into your bank account and that of your family. Please simply disclose this and the House will function,” he said. Asked if Congress was isolated in Parliament due to its protests, he said, “We are not isolated”.Rahul also raised the issue of grant of special status to Andhra Pradesh, saying it is the right of the people of the state and the Centre must act fast on it soon. He also raised the issue of self-immolation by a Congress workers yesterday on this demand.”The Congress party is fighting for special status of Andhra Pradesh and it is very sad that the Government of India is ignoring what is the right of the people of Andhra Pradesh.”This is not a favour that is being done to the people of Andhra Pradesh. This was promised to them and it is about time Government of India takes action and delivers the special status to Andhra Pradesh,” he said. Congress MPs have raised the issue in Parliament by displaying placards while raising their demand in the din.

BJP targets Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi over Parliament logjam

BJP on Saturday claimed that Sonia Gandhi and Rahul were not allowing the resumption of business in Parliament even though many of their party leaders wanted the protest on the floor to be called off.

File Photo
PTI
BJP on Saturday claimed that Sonia Gandhi and Rahul were not allowing the resumption of business in Parliament even though many of their party leaders wanted the protest on the floor to be called off.”Many Congress leaders wish that the protest should end and Parliament proceedings should be carried on smoothly, but Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi are not letting them do so,” Union Minister and BJP leader Prakash Javadekar said.Seeking to turn the tables on Congress over the Lalit Modi issue, he said, “Congress should now tell the country how much money it received by not issuing a red-corner notice to Lalit Modi.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Congress should also tell how much money it received by not declaring him (Lalit Modi) an absconder and also tell the people how much money did it receive by letting Lalit Modi flee the country,” Javadekar said.”Congress recorded its lowest ever tally in the Lok Sabha poll last year and as a result, its politics has also come down to the lowest level as it has asked some questions raising doubt over the commitment of our leader Sushma Swaraj,” Javadekar said.Alleging that Congress had “decided beforehand” to stall Parliament proceedings, Javadekar said some of its senior leaders want the logjam to end.The BJP government has a plan to tackle the Parliament logjam, Javadekar said.”We have appealed to the conscience of the opposition leaders and hope that collective wisdom will prevail at last,” he said.The BJP leader claimed that Congress didn’t want GST bill to be passed and that’s why it stalled Parliament proceedings.”Congress does not want GST, implementation of which will boost the GDP growth rate by two per cent and bring economic growth on track. Congress is not letting Parliament function and obstructing the growth of the nation,” the Union minister said.During the previous UPA regime, the Environment Ministry had held up all developmental projects, Javadekar said.”Since we have took over, all the projects of public utility have been accorded utmost importance for clearance,” he said.On BJP leader Shatrughan Sinha expressing unhappiness over the suspension of 25 Congress MPs, Javadekar said, “He (Sinha) is on the wrong track.”He declined to comment further on Sinha’s remarks.Also read: Congress ‘running away’ from debate in Parliament, says Union Minister Smriti Irani

Sushma’s drama queen moment: She needs to make her case through evidence, not emotions

There couldn’t have been a better description of external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj’s statement on the Lalit Modi controversy in Parliament than what the Congress called it – a tearjerker. On a serious allegation of impropriety, which has led to the suspension/boycott of the opposition MPs, what she did on Thursday was an attempt to convince the nation through emotions, not through reasons.

The summary of her one-sided statement – because the contestants to her argument were not present in the Parliament to pick holes – was this: she didn’t help Lalit Modi, but only a woman suffering from cancer for the last 17 years. “The allegations against me are wrong, untrue and baseless. I have never recommended or requested the British government to provide travel documents for Lalit Modi.”

She went on to add that it was the British government that had asked India if giving Lalit Modi travel documents would affect bilateral ties of the two countries.”I never asked them or even requested them to do so.”

What got drowned in her well-modulated sentimental rhetoric, which also tried to draw in an unwilling Sonia Gandhi, was this operative portion: that she never asked the British government to help Modi and it was them who approached India.

Granted that she did say what she didn’t do, but did she say anything on what exactly she did?

Did she say yes to them, or no? And what exactly was the process involved?

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. AFPExternal Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. AFP

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. AFP

According to one of her original tweets in June, when the controversy initially erupted, she had admitted that she had told the British High Commissioner that “if the British government chooses to give travel documents to Lalit Modi that will not spoil our bilateral relations”.

While making the whole affair look quite benign and purely humanitarian in the Parliament, what she didn’t disclose was that by communicating India’s no-objection to the High Commissioner she was actually changing an existing official stand of the government of India on record – that if Britain helped Lalit Modi, it will affect its bilateral ties with India. She also didn’t mention what was the mode of communication and whether she gave official rules a go by, by not putting on file her communication with her British interlocutor, that too on a man who was facing serious charges of economic offences.

Now let’s go back and read the earlier version of the story in Sushma’s own words, constructed from her tweets by PTI in June .

“Sometime in July 2014, Lalit Modi spoke to me that his wife was suffering from Cancer and her surgery was fixed for August 4 in Portugal. He told me that he had to be present in the hospital to sign the consent papers. He informed me that he had applied for travel documents in London and the UK Government was prepared to give him the travel documents. However, they were restrained by a UPA Government communication that this will spoil Indo-UK relations.Taking a humanitarian view, I conveyed to the British High Commissioner that: “British Government should examine the request of Lalit Modi as per British rules and regulations. If the British Government chooses to give travel documents to Lalit Modi that will not spoil our bilateral relations. Keith Vaz also spoke to me and I told him precisely what I told the British High Commissioner.”

Interestingly, we didn’t hear this version of the story in such a chronological order, or linearity, in the Parliament. Instead what played out before us was the emotions of a real humanist. According to her June tweets, it was Modi who approached her and not the British government. She didn’t make any reference to the British government seeking her opinion, as she claimed in her Parliament statement, even while admitting that she conveyed to the High Commissioner that granting him travel documents will not affect bilateral relations with India. Going by her own tweets, it sounded voluntary.

The story is not humanitarian as Sushma has spun it out to be, but a possible case of nepotism and abuse of authority. Nepotism, because of Lalit Modi’s close proximity to Swaraj and her family for years; and abuse of authority, because she reversed an existing government policy, without following rules and procedures. By couching it in primal sentiments, she is passing it off as a routine help that she may offer to any Indian citizen in distress.

It’s not through human emotions that a person of official authority should make her/his case, but through evidence.

These are the three crucial questions that Sushma needed to answer, but glossed over.

  1. What was the chronology of events, and whether she had put everything on record because as the external affairs minister, she cannot indulge in bilateral communications in her personal capacity.
  2. Did she change an existing government position on Lalit Modi while communicating with the British High Commissioner? If yes, did she follow procedures and put the whole process on record?
  3. If Sushma has nothing to hide, why can’t the government make public the communication between former finance minister P Chidambaram and his counterpart in the UK

In a set of questions in June  that the BJP refused to answer, Chidambaram had flagged a few more issues: if there was indeed a humanitarian angle, why didn’t Sushma advise Modi to apply to the Indian High Commissioner in London so that he could temporarily travel to Portugal for a limited period; and why should the British government issue a travel document to an Indian citizen?

Chidamabaram also had raised issues such as the external affairs ministry not contesting the Delhi High Court order reinstating Modi’s passport, the government not communicating its objections to the UK government against its granting long-term visa or residency permit to Modi while he was refusing to appear before the ED, and issuing a new passport to him. The BJP might laugh them off, as they did, but these are valid questions that make the Modi affair murky however kind-hearted one tries to be.

The real sleight of hand in Sushma’s defence is this tweet ahead of her Parliament speech:  “I left this to the UK Government to decide under their own laws and regulations. And that is what they did.”

This is a non-brainer. Can anybody ask any government, let alone the UK government, violate their laws and regulations? Will anybody listen? This is a clever, but inane, statement meant to deceive.

Now the real crux of the “tear-jerker” – the cancer. “Lalit Modi’s wife has been suffering from cancer for the past 17 years. When it relapsed for the tenth time, doctors told her it was life threatening and said it was important for her to have her husband around for the surgery in Portugal.”

Here again, the statement appeals to one’s sentiments, than to reasons. Cancer for 17 years and 10 relapses is a little dramatic to lay people although multiple relapses are not uncommon. What’s important is the nature of cancer and the site of recurrence. With cutting edge treatment, a number of people (fortunate and moneyed) can live with certain cancers as a chronic illness  – they may not be completely cured, but can survive because of modern, targeted treatment. And cancer is always life-threatening and emotionally devastating, not just the 10th time. Cancer relapse, that too multiple times, is not simple – it’s complex and needs a scientifically nuanced explanation. Anyway, in a carefully constructed emotional narrative, it’s the impact that matters.

The summary of the story is that Sushma has made her point, but didn’t elucidate what exactly she did and what was the state-of-play vis a vis Lalit Modi when she made her intervention. Now that the ED is moving ahead with steps to get him arrested, it’s clear (in introspect) that Lalit Modi was indeed dodging Indian law and that she was helping (in retrospect) him stay away.

Unless the government comes clean on this, by answering every single question the opposition has raised, Sushma’s statement will just remain what it indeed is – an emotional whitewash.

BJP slams Sonia, Rahul after their attack on Sushma Swaraj, takes dig at dynasty politics

BJP on Friday hit back at Sonia and Rahul Gandhi after their attack on Sushma Swaraj, who was called an “expert in theatrics” by Sonia, with the ruling party taking a dig at dynastic politics.

PTI
BJP on Friday hit back at Sonia and Rahul Gandhi after their attack on Sushma Swaraj, who was called an “expert in theatrics” by Sonia, with the ruling party taking a dig at dynastic politics.BJP fielded Union Minister Smriti Irani to defend the External Affairs Minister as well as Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan and attack the top Congress leaders on a day the verbal duel between the two parties escalated with both Sonia and Rahul Gandhi making sharp comments against Swaraj over the Lalit Modi controversy. Taking a swipe at the Gandhi dynasty over their attack on Swaraj and the Speaker, she suggested both of them came from normal families.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Also read: Sonia calls Sushma expert at theatrics; Rahul asks how much money Lalit Modi paid the Swaraj family”People in this country know that a woman coming from a normal family has to toil hard to make a space for herself in the society and its economy. It is generally seen that children of such women also work hard. Congress may have an exception in the Gandhi family where they don’t have to sweat it out in the sun to earn their livelihood. I completely deny their charges,” she said.Noting that the “boys of Congress” removed their shirt to protest “naked” against the Speaker’s decision to suspend 25 Congress members from Lok Sabha, Irani wondered if this was the value Rahul wanted Congress to absorb. To a question on the attack of Gandhis on Swaraj, she shot back asking if they wanted to say that Parliament had become a theatre by terming her statement in Lok Sabha as “drama”.”Such a statement is disrespect to the dignity of Parliament. Congress party especially Rahul Gandhi should not work to reduce Parliament’s respect,” she told reporters here. She also attacked Congress for its criticism of the Naga peace accord and opposition to the GST bill, saying the former was historic as far the country’s internal security was concerned while GST would led to economic revolution.

Sushma Swaraj’s defence on Lalit Modi raises more questions

An emotionally charged Swaraj asked why punish Modi’s wife suffering from cancer for 17 years and it developing for the tenth time.

Sushma Swaraj speaks in the Lok Sabha on Thursday

PTI
External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj’s spirited defence using all her oratorical skills in the Lok Sabha reiterating that she only helped the IPL founder Lalit Modi’s wife on “humanitarian grounds” has raised more questions.The trail left by Lalit Modi himself, after he secured the British documents to travel to Portugal where his wife was supposed to get operated on August 4, 2014, was found enjoying himself on August 6, in front the church in Fatima, the Catholic pilgrimage site about 100km outside Lisbon, just two days after attending his “ailing” wife. On August 8, along with his wife Minal, he was seen in Ibiza, the island in Spain, favoured by the rich and famous as a party destination.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>An emotionally charged Swaraj asked why punish Modi’s wife suffering from cancer for 17 years and it developing for the tenth time. “If Sonia Gandhi were in my place, she would have also done so. However, if it were a crime to help a cancer patient, let the House punish me,” she said in a suo moto statement, accusing that the Opposition had done “injustice” to her by levelling baseless charges.Though Swaraj read her statement in the absence of Opposition, who are boycotting the session on account of suspension of 25 MPs, the Congress rejected her explanation, pointing out that she could have given Indian travel papers to Lalit Modi on compassionate grounds. Why did she not tell the British government to repatriate him as he was wanted for crimes in India, asked Congress leader Anand Sharma. She will be again face test as it is her ministry that has to ask the British government to arrest and repatriate Lalit Modi to India in view of a non-bailable warrant (NBW) issued by a Mumbai court against him on Wednesday. Stating that it must be the effect of her “grah,” (planetary situation) an emotionally charged Sushma said: “It is unfortunate that my closest friends in Opposition are levelling charges against me. These are my bad days. I am sure they will be over.”She asserted that she has never requested or recommended the British authorities to give travel documents to Lalit Modi, challenging the Opposition wanting her resignation to show any paper or e-mail as a proof of their charge of helping an absconder wanted for crimes in India. “What crime did I commit? Did I extend some financial benefit to Lalit Modi? Did I help him flee from India? Did I stop an inquiry against him?” she asked, explaining that she had only made a verbal request, leaving it to the British government to consider his case if its rules allow and assuring that it would not affect the bilateral relations between India and Britain.Explaining the background under which she helped Lalit Modi’s wife when she was operated for cancer for the 10th time in a Portugal research centre whose doctors said her ailment was life-threatening and that she may even die during the operation as both of her kidneys were damaged. So she wanted her husband to be present on August 4, 2014 when she was scheduled to undergo surgery. Sushma also quoted from a letter of the centre’s director, Dr Carlo, which said, “Presence of Mrs Modi and her husband is required.”She also quoted from the statement of Lalit Modi’s wife to the British Home Office that they are married for 20 years but “I need him now than ever.”But the UK authorities who were refusing travel documents to Modi till August 1, did relent on the intervention of Swaraj, which they treated as a diplomatic signal for change in policy on the former IPL commissioner. The UK had earlier placed restrictions on Modi’s travel in view of Enforcement Directorate’s actions over his alleged role in money laundering The UK officials had on July 3, 2014 informed Lalit Modi in writing, that he has been denied visa. “Lalit Modi was wanted by law. It was confirmed by Finance Minister of this and the previous government. There were 14 cases in which Lalit Modi was already served notice. Should a minister then clandestinely arrange travel documents for such a person?” Sharma asked. “Why did Sushma Swaraj intervene voluntarily to ensure travel document for Lalit when the UK government did not ask for that? It’s ridiculous,” he said.

PM Modi can’t ask Sushma Swaraj, CMs to step down because of his 2002 riots track record: Manish Tewari

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “old track record” of Godhra riots is preventing him from asking his junior colleagues, who are facing corruption charges, to step down, former Union Minister Manish Tewari charged on Thursday.

Tewari-Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “old track record” of Godhra riots is preventing him from asking his junior colleagues, who are facing corruption charges, to step down, former Union Minister Manish Tewari charged on Thursday.Tewari, while holding the Modi government responsible for current stalemate in Parliament, said that his party was raising a legitimate demand of resignations of leaders in question, including External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Chief Ministers of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Prime Minister cannot ask the Ministers and chief ministers to step down even if he wants to…Because of his old track record of the Godhra riots,” Tewari told reporters here.”Be it the External Affairs Minister, the Rajasthan CM or the Madhya Pradesh CM…If Modi asks them to resign, they will say that when you (Modi) were accused of the riots when you were the CM, we stood by you and now when we are being accused, you are asking us to resign so your (Modi’s) resignation should come first,” he said.The former Union minister claimed that Swaraj wrote to the British government saying that the Indian government would have no objection if Lalit Modi (the ex-IPL commissioner) is allowed to move out of country.”Before the present NDA government, the UPA government had written (to UK) that any such help to Lalit Modi would adversely affect the India-Britain relations,” the Congress leader said.Tewari also demanded that communication between the then External Affairs minister P Chidambaram and UK government over this issue should be brought in public domain.On Swaraj’s statement on the Lalit Modi row that she was helping a cancer patient, Tiwari asked ,”why she did not feel similar humanitarian affection for other Indians stuck in UK?”When asked about the allegation on Congress leader and former chief minister of Goa Digambar Kamat, who is the main accused in bribery scandal, Tewari alleged that investigations are biased and have been taken up to meet the end objectives.”Our leaders have been framed. BJP government in Goa acts in a vindictive manner. Investigations in Goa which is a BJP ruled state, are usually not transparent,” he added.

Court reserves order on ED plea for warrant against Lalit Modi

Mumbai: The special court for Prevention of Money Laundering Act cases here on Tuesday reserved its order on Enforcement Directorate’s plea seeking a non-bailable warrant (NBW) against former IPL boss Lalit Modi.

ED moved the court last week seeking an NBW after Modi did not respond to the summons sent to him.

File picture of Lalit Modi. GettyFile picture of Lalit Modi. Getty

File picture of Lalit Modi. Getty

Special judge P R Bhavake on Tuesday sought to know why the agency was not arresting him and had sought NBW and whether a warrant can be issued during the investigation.

ED’s lawyer Hiten Venegoankar said Lali Modi was not available in India, hence an NBW should be issued. Modi had not complied with the summonses issued to him since 2009, he claimed.

The judge asked if Modi was an accused before the court as ED had not filed a charge sheet against him. For issuance of NBW, the person should be an accused before the court, judge Bhavake remarked.

The ED lawyer said the case was at the stage of pre-investigation and the Supreme Court had said in a previous ruling that NBW can be issued during the investigation.

Last month, the court had issued letters rogatory (LR) to Singapore and Mauritius, seeking assistance from authorities there in the case.

BCCI registered an FIR in Chennai against Modi in 2010. In 2008, the cricket body had awarded 10-year media rights to WSG for USD 918 million. WSG then entered into a deal with MSM to make Sony the official broadcaster. The contract was replaced later with a nine-year deal where MSM paid WSG USD 1.63 billion.

In 2009, ED started a probe under Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) to investigate the allegation that payment of Rs 425 crore facilitation fee by MSM Singapore to WSG Mauritius had been made in an unauthorised manner.

PTI

Court reserves order on ED’s plea seeking non-bailable warrant against Lalit Modi

Mumbai: The special court for Prevention of Money Laundering Act cases in Mumbai on Tuesday reserved its order on Enforcement Directorate’s plea seeking a non-bailable warrant (NBW) against former IPL boss Lalit Modi.

Lalit Modi. Reuters

Lalit Modi. Reuters

ED moved the court last week seeking an NBW after Modi did not respond to the summons sent to him.

Special judge PR Bhavake on Tuesday sought to know why the agency was not arresting him and had sought NBW and whether a warrant can be issued during the investigation.

ED’s lawyer Hiten Venegoankar said Lali Modi was not available in India, hence an NBW should be issued. Modi had not complied with the summonses issued to him since 2009, he claimed.

The judge asked if Modi was an accused before the court as ED had not filed a charge sheet against him. For issuance of NBW, the person should be an accused before the court, judge Bhavake remarked.

The ED lawyer said the case was at the stage of pre-investigation and the Supreme Court had said in a previous ruling that NBW can be issued during the investigation.

Last month, the court had issued letters rogatory (LR) to Singapore and Mauritius, seeking assistance from authorities there in the case.

BCCI registered an FIR in Chennai against Modi in 2010. In 2008, the cricket body had awarded 10-year media rights to WSG for USD 918 million. WSG then entered into a deal with MSM to make Sony the official broadcaster. The contract was replaced later with a nine-year deal where MSM paid WSG USD 1.63 billion.

In 2009, ED started a probe under Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) to investigate the allegation that payment of Rs 425 crore facilitation fee by MSM Singapore to WSG Mauritius had been made in an unauthorised manner.

PTI

Govt shouted, threatened and ran off: Rahul Gandhi on Centre’s U-turn on land bill

Congress Vice President made the remarks while agitating with party MPs in Parliament House complex in protest against suspension of its 25 members from Lok Sabha.

Rahul said the Congress will ‘gherao’ the government on these issues in the entire country.
File Photo
PTI
Taking a swipe at government over its U-turn on land bill, Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday said it “ran off” after “threatening” and shouting” in the face of resistance by Congress and vowed that the party will similarly keep up pressure for resignations in Lalit Modi and Vyapam issues.”On the land issue, Congress stood in front of them. They (government) shouted, made too much noise, threatened and later made a U-turn and ran off,” the Congress Vice President said, a day after BJP members in a parliamentary panel moved amendments to restore provisions of the UPA’s land law.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Similarly, on the issue of corruption, Vyapam, on the issue of Rajasthan Chief Minister and Sushma Swaraj, we will not minimise the pressure on them even if they throw us out of Parliament or do not let us enter Parliament,” Rahul said. He made the remarks while agitating with party MPs in Parliament House complex in protest against suspension of its 25 members from Lok Sabha.The Congress MPs faced action after they did now allow the house to function demanding the resignation of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan CM Vasundhara Raje for allegedly helping Lalit Modi and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minisiter Shivraj Singh Chouhan over Vyapam scam.Rahul said the Congress will ‘gherao’ the government on these issues in the entire country. Reacting to the remarks, Rural Development Minister Birender Singh said, “Those who stand at 44 will speak only this language”. Congress was reduced to its least tally of 44 seats in Lok Sabha in the last general elections.The barbs from both sides came as the government expressed readiness to accept recommendations of the panel on land, which restored provisions of the UPA law, insisting that it was not a climbdown as it was always open to changes on which there is consensus.All 11 BJP members moved amendments in Joint Committee of Parliament seeking to bring back key provisions of UPA’s land law including on consent clause and social impact assessment by dropping the changes brought by Modi Government in December last year and subsequently revalidated by Ordinance thrice.

Congress MPs suspended from house

The speaker of India’s parliament Sumitra Mahajan suspends 25 Congress party MPs for “causing grave disruption”.

Nitin Gadkari demands apology from Congress for Rahul Gandhi’s ‘immature’ statement

“Rahul Gandhi’s statement on External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was very immature and unfortunate. Congress President Sonia Gandhi or vice-president Rahul Gandhi should apologise for Rahul’s statement against Sushma Swaraj,” Gadkari said.

Nitin Gadkari

PTI
Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari on Monday said that Congress president Sonia Gandhi or its vice-president, Rahul Gandhi, should apologise for his ‘immature’ statement on External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.”Rahul Gandhi’s statement on External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was very immature and unfortunate. Congress President Sonia Gandhi or vice-president Rahul Gandhi should apologise for Rahul’s statement against Sushma Swaraj,” Gadkari said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Gadkari further said he is hoping that seemingly immature statement made by Rahul Gandhi is taken back and at least Sonia Gandhi should apologies on his behalf. “The Congress is not letting the House to function smoothly. Their demand of ‘first resign then debate’ is not right. The Congress has lost its faith in democracy. I appeal the Congress party to let the House function,? he added. Gadkari further said that all the other opposition parties except for Congress are willing for a debate in the Parliament. Rahul Gandhi had earlier last month accused Sushma Swaraj of committing a criminal act that deserved jail. He said, “Sushma Swaraj is a minister who the whole country knows has done a criminal act. When you do a criminal act, you go to jail. The foreign minister of India going around … and saying please release this man. The CM of Rajasthan has done that. This is against the law.” Both senior BJP leaders have been accused of helping the former IPL commissioner, a fugitive, who is being investigated by Indian agencies for money laundering, secure travel documents in the UK in 2014. The ruling NDA regime has said there is no question of them resigning. Sushma Swaraj has consistently maintained thatshe helped Lalit Modi on “humanitarian” grounds so that he could give consent for his wife’s cancer treatment at a medical facility in Lisbon, Portugal, in August 2014. But according to some reports, Portugal?s laws do not require the consent of adults for patients undergoing medical treatment. Lalit Modi has been using his Twitter account to say that Swaraj Kaushal, Sushma’s husband, and her daughter Bansuri Kaushal, offered him free legal services. The former IPL commissioner also picked up the hotel tabs for Swaraj Kaushal and Raje at the Four Seasons in Mumbai in 2010. Making the plot even murkier is the financial link between Raje’s son, Dushyant Singh, and Lalit Modi, who made a Rs.11.63 crore investment in his firm Niyant Heritage Hotels Pvt Ltd. in April 2008. The shares of the company were priced at Rs. 10 in 2005, but the IPL commissioner paid around Rs. 7.83 crore to 815 shares at a staggering premium of Rs. 96,180. The money invested in their firm was part of Rs. 21 crore that Lalit Modi’s Anand Heritage Hotels Pvt Ltd. received from an unknown entity Wilton Investment Ltd based in Mauritius, which is being probed by the Enforcement Directorate.

Daggers drawn on eve of all-party meet to end House logjam

In a tit for tat strategy, the Congress and BJP have been trying to pull out skeletons from each other’s cupboards, deepening the acrimony.

Parliament

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A day ahead of an all-party meeting to find a way out of the impasse in Parliament, neither the Opposition nor the ruling side seemed to be in a relenting mood with both blaming each other for the deadlock in the House. Senior ministers — Arun Jaitley and Nirmala Sitharaman — accused the Congress of disrupting proceedings of Parliament, which has remained paralysed since the monsoon session began on July 21. With just two weeks left, parliamentary affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu has called an all-party meeting on Monday to save the rest of the session.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>But, in what could further complicate matters, the Congress has flagged of a new issue charging former Himachal Pradesh chief minister PK Dhumal and his son Anurag Thakur, a BJP MP, of a Rs 100 crore scam in a land grab case in the name of cricket. Thakur has denied the charges saying the land was given to HPCA and not him. In a tit for tat strategy, the Congress and BJP have been trying to pull out skeletons from each other’s cupboards, deepening the acrimony. The congress has been demanding resignations of external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh chief ministers Vasundhara Raje and Shivraj Singh Chouhan over the Lalit Modi and Vyapam issues, a demand the BJP has rejected. Jaitley, in his article criticising Congress for “obstructing” Goods and Services Tax (GST) bill, said the party may be upset with the government for “political reasons” but it must “accept and seriously introspect” that “negativism” and its “obstructionist tendencies” would hurt the country and the economy.Retaliating to this, Congress said the government did not seem sincere in its effort to end the standoff in Parliament and blamed the Parliament logjam on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “arrogance and obduracy.” “The unwarranted, uncharitable and provocative statement made by finance minister Arun Jaitley and the BJP accusing the Congress of disruption makes it abundantly clear that the government is neither serious nor sincere in breaking the stalemate for the Parliament to function,” senior Congress leader Anand Sharma said. His statement came after Congress president Sonia Gandhi held parleys with top party leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mallikarjun Kharge, Ahmed Patel, and Sharma last night to decide on its strategy.The Congress, which was disinclined to give in to the government’s plea to allow smooth functioning of parliament making way for passage of GST, was ready for a debate on terror but wanted the Prime minister to respond. The government, however, would want it to commit to allowing some legislative business in return.Sitharaman, who addressed a press conference at the party office, said Congress has put itself in an “untenable position” and has “pushed itself against the wall” by demanding resignations. She said the “honourable exit” for the Congress would be to have a debate on the issue in Parliament.

Meeting to end Parliament logjam must discuss action against BJP trio, says Congress

The party had on Friday made it clear that its participation in an all-party meeting to break the deadlock depended on a “tangible” proposal from the Prime Minister on the opposition’s demands.

Parliament

Upping the ante ahead of Monday’s all-party meeting convened by the government, Congress on Saturday insisted that the issue of action against three top BJP leaders should be on the agenda if the deadlock in Parliament is to be broken.Before the start of the third week of the Monsoon session, which has so far been a stalled affair due to the opposition’s protests over the Lalit Modi controversy and Vyapam scam, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad also hit out at Home Minister Rajnath Singh, saying there was no need for anybody to lecture Congress on fighting terror.The Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha told reporters that the Home Minister was attempting to create polarisation by talking about “Hindu terrorism” and diverting attention away from the “failures” of the government.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The government which released dreaded militants and flew them to Afghanistan should not lecture us on terrorism,” Azad said in an apparent reference to the then External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh flying to Kandahar accompanied by militants who were freed in the wake of the IC-814 hijacking in December, 1999.Addressing a press conference at the AICC headquarters, Azad said, “We have no objection to holding discussions to break the logjam, but it should be based on what action is taken against Union Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje (in connection with the Lalit Modi row) and (Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan) over the Vyapam scam”.”It (the three BJP leaders’ fate) should be on the agenda for the discussions,” said Azad, emphasising that Congress was keen on the passage of important Bills in the current session of Parliament, which has faced disruptions for the last two weeks.The party had on Friday made it clear that its participation in an all-party meeting to break the deadlock depended on a “tangible” proposal from the Prime Minister on the opposition’s demands.The Congress’s response comes at a time when the government has attempted to reach out to the opposition by convening an all-party meet on Monday.

No end to Parliament deadlock: Congress lobs ball into government court, HM hints at all-party meet

After the meeting, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said the government had not made any attempt to talk to the Opposition to end the impasse, which has paralysed Parliament since the monsoon session began on July 21.

A two-hour all-party meeting on Thursday failed to end the deadlock in Parliament over the Opposition-Government face off on the Vyapam scam and Lalit Modi controversy. The Congress has lobbed the ball on smooth functioning of the House in the court of the ruling side even as home minister Rajnath Singh indicated that government was open to convening an all-party meeting to discuss the contentious issues.After the meeting, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said the government had not made any attempt to talk to the Opposition to end the impasse, which has paralysed Parliament since the monsoon session began on July 21.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The Opposition is ready to cooperate, but it’s the government’s responsibility to talk to the Opposition to resolve the issue,” Kharge told reporters. Sumitra Mahajan had convened the meeting to evolve a consensus on abiding by the rule book.Though both sides seem to have agreed to discuss the issues at an all-party meeting, neither have climbed down from their belligerent stands. The Congress is persisting with the “resignations before discussions in House” strategy and the government is unwilling to give in to the Opposition demand for resignations of union minister Sushsma Swaraj and Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje over the Lalit Modi controversy and Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan in the Vyapam scam.Retaliating to charges of disrupting the House, Kharge said the Opposition was following the traditions set up by leaders like LK Advani, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley who had termed disruptions in Parliament as a part and parcel of the democratic process when BJP was in Opposition.Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandhyopadhyay questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s silence.Talking to reporters after the meeting, the Speaker said she wanted political parties to start mulling over “inappropriate” modes of protests like going into the well of the House or raising placards. She said while most parties agreed with her views, it would not be easy to evolve a consensus on it. “But a beginning has been made to get together and decide on this. All of them assured cooperation,” she said.She said the thought of addressing undignified behaviour in the House came to her mind recently on the day a Congress member moved to her podium and banged it with his placard. “My eyes fell on the visitors gallery which was full of children who had come to watch the proceedings,”she said.The Opposition has been seeking resignations of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan chief ministers Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Vasundhara Raje which has paralysed Parliament for two weeks with the government rejecting their demand.

Opposition MP seeks censure motion against Sushma Swaraj in Lok Sabha

NK Premachandran, a leader of the RSP, which is a constituent of the Congress-led UDF in Kerala, gave the notice to the Speaker’s office on Friday,

Wielding another weapon in the Opposition armour in a bid to embarrass the government, a Lok Sabha member has given notice for a censure motion in Lok Sabha against external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj saying she had misused her office to help former IPL commissioner Lalit Modi.NK Premachandran, a leader of the RSP, which is a constituent of the Congress-led UDF in Kerala, gave the notice to the Speaker’s office on Friday, even as the House continued to be disrupted with the Opposition insisting on resignations of BJP leaders facing the heat in Vyapam scam and Lalit Modi row before taking up any discussion in the House.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>If admitted, the censure motion would be discussed under rule 184, which entails voting. With the BJP-led government is in a majority in Lok Sabha, the motion, which expresses disapproval of the minister’s conduct, if take up and put to vote will be defeated but could cause discomfiture to the government.The notice has been sent for comments of the external affairs minister and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, according to sources.Premachandran has given the notice citing six grounds — impropriety, conflict of interest, violation of oath of office by granting “undue” favour to Lalit Modi, ministry not appealing to Supreme Court against cancellation of revoking Modi’s passport, lacking bonafides by not taking ministry into confidence and the Prime Minister not being taken into confidence.The veteran MP has taken Congress leaders into confidence on the notice, sources said. While the government has made it clear that it was ready for a discussion in the House, the Congress and some other Opposition parties have rejected the offer saying Swaraj and chief ministers — Vasundhara Raje and Shivraj Singh Chouhan — should first step down. The ruling side has ruled out giving in to the Opposition demand for resignations. If Premachandran’s censure motion is admitted, it would mean having a debate in the House, which the Opposition has been resisting.A censure motion is generally moved by the Opposition against a specific policy of government or against a minister or ministers. Under rule 184, even if the motion gets the approval of the House, the minister is not bound to resign but it could amount to loss of face for the government.So far, only five such notices for censure motion have been admitted against ministers in the House, sources said. The last one against a minister was in 2000, when S Jaipal Reddy moved a motion seeking the removal of three Cabinet Ministers — LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti — and disapproving the stand taken by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee on the Ayodhya issue. The motion was rejected after a 15-hour debate.

Sushma Swaraj denies helping Lalit Modi procure travel documents

Sushma further stressed that as a minister she is accountable to the Parliament, adding that she helps people on a daily basis.

File Photo

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Saturday reiterated that she never requested or recommended travel documents for former IPL chief Lalit Modi, who is facing allegations of tax evasion. “You got it right. I am saying this time and again that I never requested or recommended travel documents for Lalit Modi,” Sushma said in a series of tweets. “I left this to the UK Government to decide under their own laws and regulations. And that is what they did,” she added. Sushma further stressed that as a minister she is accountable to the Parliament, adding that she helps people on a daily basis. “As a Minister I am accountable to the Parliament. That is the only forum to inform the nation,” said the External Affairs Minister. “I help people every day. That too on a single tweet,” she added. The External Affairs Minister further accused the Congress of blocking a debate in the Parliament over the issue.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> “I accepted a debate on the very first day of the Parliament session. Congress members are not allowing a debate,” she stated. Sushma had earlier tweeted that a senior leader of the opposition Congress party had approached her for a diplomatic passport for an accused in the multi-billion dollar coal scam. She added that she would reveal the name of the Congress leader in Parliament.

No business in Parliament for third day as Oppn-Govt deadlock persists

The Lok Sabha was adjourned for the day just after papers were tabled at noon, while the Rajya Sabha was adjourned at about 2.10 PM after two adjournments earlier.

PTI
Parliament could not transact any business for the third day in a row as deadlock prevailed between the Opposition and the ruling side over the Lalit Modi and Vyapam issues, which aggravated on Thursday after BJP raised objection to certain comments by Robert Vadra.While the Opposition stuck to its demand for the resignation of Union Minister Sushma Swaraj and Chief Ministers of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, the government rejected it and countered in the Lok Sabha by raking up a Facebook post of Vadra and seeking action against him for “demeaning” MPs.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Lok Sabha was adjourned for the day just after papers were tabled at noon, while the Rajya Sabha was adjourned at about 2.10 PM after two adjournments earlier.The Lok Sabha failed to transact any business for the second straight day as confrontation between ruling and opposition sides intensified with BJP hitting back at Congress by forcefully raising the Vadra issue and seeking action against Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law for breach of privilege.Rajya Sabha saw heated exchanges between the opposition and treasury benches, primarily over the modalities for a discussion on the Lalit Modi controversy, with members of the Congress, Left and other parties insisting “no resignation, no discussion.”The Upper House could not transact any business as it witnessed two adjournments – one till noon and the other till 2 PM. Similar scenes prevailed when it reassembled, forcing Deputy Chairman P J Kurien to adjourn it for the day.All hell broke loose in the Lower House when it met after the first adjournment at noon and BJP member Prahlad Joshi referred to Vadra’s Facebook post.The Lok Sabha, which was already paralysed since Wednesday due to opposition demands for resignation of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje over the Lalit Modi controversy and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on the Vyapam scam, then plunged into a turmoil.Joshi claimed Vadra had “demeaned” MPs and wanted the issue to be referred to the Privileges Committee of Parliament and he be brought before the House.His remarks angered Sonia Gandhi who rose to protest strongly, leading her party members to intensify their slogan-shouting against the government. Joshi’s remarks added fuel to the fire as the Congress members, who had already stormed the Well, shouted “no resignation, no discussion”.Amid the din, Leader of Congress in the House Mallikarjun Kharge went to Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to say that Joshi’s remarks should be immediately expunged as Vadra is not a member of the House.Vadra, in the Facebook post, had taken a dig at the NDA government without naming it before the Monsoon session began on July 21. “Parliament begins and so do their petty diversionary political tactics… People of India are not fooled. Regret to see India led by such so-called leaders!!,” Vadra had said in his post.Acrimonious debate and, at times, heated exchanges between BJP and the opposition members were witnessed in the Rajya Sabha, primarily on procedural matters to discuss the Lalit Modi controversy.While opposition led by Congress pressed for suspension of business to discuss the issue and seek the resignation of Swaraj for allegedly helping the controversial former IPL head Lalit Modi, Leader of the House Arun Jaitley rebutted it saying the notice given by Anand Sharma (Cong) only sought a discussion without any condition or caveat like resignation of any minister.The Upper House was adjourned for the day as the ruckus continued soon after it reassembled at 2 PM after two earlier adjournments.

Congress rallies Opposition on ‘no resignation, no discussion’ strategy

As opposition Congress, TRS and Left members refused to budge, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan adjourned the House till noon, minutes after the Question Hour was taken up.

The deadlock in Parliament is likely to continue with Congress on Thursday rallying other opposition parties on “no resignation, no discussion” strategy over Lalit Modi and Vyapam controversies.Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi and party leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge met NCP’s Tariq Anwar, JMM’s Vijay Hansdak and AAP’s Bhagwant Mann just ahead of the House assembling for the day. Parliament has witnessed a washout since the Monsoon session began on July 21 with Congress-led opposition aggressively pressing for ouster of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, as also Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, rejecting the government’s offer for a debate.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In the meeting , it was decided to press ahead with the strategy. Soon afterwards, Question Hour in the Lok Sabha was washed out for the second consecutive day as opposition continued its protest over Lalit Modi controversy.As opposition Congress, TRS and Left members refused to budge, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan adjourned the House till noon, minutes after the Question Hour was taken up. Later, the House was adjourned for the day following continued opposition ruckus. The Government too is digging in its heels, saying there won’t be any probe or resignation.

BJP plans to mount spirited counter attack on Congress in Parliament

With the logjam in both Houses of Parliament over the Lalit Modi controversy, Vyapam scam and other issues likely to continue, the government has decided to mount a major counter offensive over graft allegations against Congress dispensations and Chief Ministers in states like Himachal Pradesh, Assam, Uttarakhand, Karnataka and Kerala.

PTI
Facing opposition fire over the Vyapam scam and other issues in Parliament, the Modi government and BJP have decided to vociferously raise the issue of alleged corruption by Congress governments in states to blunt a determined onslaught by the opposition party.With the logjam in both Houses of Parliament over the Lalit Modi controversy, Vyapam scam and other issues likely to continue, the government has decided to mount a major counter offensive over graft allegations against Congress dispensations and Chief Ministers in states like Himachal Pradesh, Assam, Uttarakhand, Karnataka and Kerala. The government on Wednesday fielded three of its Union ministers to launch an attack on Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat in the alleged liquor scam and over conviction of former Union minister P K Thungon.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The move is being seen as an attempt by the BJP to pay the Congress back in the same coin for attacking its chief ministers in Parliament. Political issues concerning states are normally not brought up in Parliament, but Congress has been insisting on the resignation of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan over the Vyapam scandal and his Rajasthan counterpart Vasundhara Raje for helping former IPL chairman Lalit Modi. “Act against Chief Ministers in states, only then you have the moral right to demand resignation of BJP chief ministers,” a top leader said.Sources said by raising the issue of corruption in Congress-ruled states, BJP will also seek to divide the opposition as several parties now arrayed against it would want to lap up the opportunity to attack Congress which is their rival in state politics. The government’s aggression was evident on Wednesday when External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, under attack for helping the “fugitive” former IPL boss secure travel documents in the UK, threatened to name a senior Congress leader who allegedly pressured her to give a diplomatic passport to former Union minister and coal scam accused Santosh Bagrodia.”I will disclose name of the leader on the floor of the House,” Swaraj tweeted this morning. “Sushma Swaraj is ready to put the record straight,” said a Union Minister, adding that “the opposition is not able to digest the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and that is why resorting to all this”. “They don’t want the government to succeed,” he said.Sources said the government’s counter attack may also see BJP MPs raising the issue of the “escape” of Warren Anderson, who was Chairman and CEO of the Union Carbide Corporation at the time of the Bhopal gas tragedy. The issue of Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi, considered close to the Gandhi family who escaped punishment in the Bofors scandal could also be raised.”If they raise Lalit Modi, then issues of Quattrochi, Anderson and Dawood will also be discussed. The choice is theirs,” the leader said. As part of the strategy, the Prime Minister and BJP chief Amit Shah also told MPs at the Parliamentary Party meeting not be cowed down by Congress’ attack and counter it effectively as “no one has done any wrong”.

Angry Sonia Gandhi pulls up Shashi Tharoor

“Gandhi, who generally does not get angry, literally blasted Tharoor” sources said adding that the party chief was in no mood to listen to any explanation from him.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday night pulled up former Union Minister Shashi Tharoor over the leak of his views against party’s stalling tactics in Parliament in the media.”Gandhi, who generally does not get angry, literally blasted Tharoor” ,sources said adding that the party chief was in no mood to listen to any explanation from him. Her anger was directed at him over the fact that his opposition to disruption tactics at a strategy meeting made its way to the media.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>There has been a sizeable section in the Congress, especially young MPs, who want the party to make the most of the situation caused by the Lalit Modi controversy and the Vyapam scam to put the government in the dock. Reports quoting unnamed sources had it that at Tuesday’s strategy committee meeting, Tharoor had expressed himself against “stalling tactics”.He had said the disruption tactics’ a repeat of what the BJP did when it was in the opposition may not be effective. He had given three reasons for this. First, the strength of the Congress is just 44, while the BJP had 110-plus members when it was in the opposition during the last Lok Sabha. Second, it is not clear whether the rest of the opposition will join the Congress, and it remains to be seen if the government can get them on its side. Third, Tharoor is learnt to have argued that the government will, in all likelihood, brazen out the opposition attack.Tharoor had argued that the Congress should instead engage in discussion on all issues be it Vyapam or the Lalit Modi episode and use facts and figures to drive home its point. Sonia’s reprimand of Tharoor came amid a belligerent Congress leaving no stone unturned to corner the Narendra Modi government over the various scams involving top BJP leaders.The Congress has been demanding the resignation of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and the chief ministers of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh over Lalitgate and Vyapam. This is not for the first time the Thiruvananthapuram MP has been caught on the wrong foot by the party. Some of his views including what was seen as being appreciative of Prime Minister Narendra Modi had caused a controversy.

Sushma Swaraj deletes ‘Foreign Minister’ from Twitter bio, fuels speculations

Is she on the way out, will she be given a relatively less important portfolio or is it merely a clerical error?

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In a curious turn of events, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has removed the post of Foreign Minister from her Twitter bio. The matter is particularly significant in light of the recent controversy surrounding her help to Lalit Modi in getting a visa in 2014. The Opposition has threatened to stall the monsoon session of the Parliament completely till the time Swaraj resigns. Sushma Swaraj however, has been combative so far, rejecting all charges of impropriety against her. She has even attacked members of the media for stories against her. On Wednesday too, Sushma launched a counter-attack revealing that a Congress leader had asked for her help to get a diplomatic passport for scam accused former MoS coal Santosh Bagrodia.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>However this strategy has failed to deter the opposition from creating a ruckus in the Parliament. In this perspective, Swaraj deleting her Twitter bio has only fuelled speculations.Is she on the way out, will she be given a relatively less important portfolio or is it merely a clerical error? Amid speculations about her indifferent relationship with PM Modi, it remains to be seen if the last word has been spoken on Sushma Swaraj’s political career.

No resignations, no wrong done by Sushma, two Chief Ministers, asserts BJP

Party leaders were also asked to aggressively “expose” Congress over its “disinformation campaign”.

A combative BJP top brass on Wednesday rallied behind Union Minister Sushma Swaraj and two state chief ministers who are under Opposition attack over Lalit Modi row and Vyapam scam, asserting that they have done no wrong and there will be no resignations.Party leaders were also asked to aggressively “expose” Congress over its “disinformation campaign”. The assertions came at the BJP parliamentary party meeting where Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked MPs to be “proud” of the Centre”s work and BJP chief Amit Shah told them that all the states ruled by it were doing “a very good work with honesty. We have done no wrong.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The party put up a strong defence on a day when the Congress-led opposition continued to stall Parliament, demanding resignations of Swaraj and Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan chief ministers Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Vasundhara Raje over Lalit Modi row and Vyapam scam. The over 45-minute meeting saw Swaraj telling the parliamentarians that she offered no help to the former IPL boss, Naqvi told reporters after the meeting.”I offered neither any financial benefit to him nor did I help him flee India. I never told the British government to give him travel documents. All I did was to tell them that their decision (on Lalit Modi”s request) will not affect their ties with India,” Naqvi said quoting her.”Congress is trying to make a mountain out of a molehill. Here there is not even a molehill,” she said and added that she had rejected pressure from some senior Congress leaders to give diplomatic passport to Coal scam accused Santosh Bagrodia. Swaraj had earlier tweeted about it. She also strongly defended the Madhya Pradesh government over Vyapam scam, Naqvi said.Shah called upon the party MPs and workers to strongly counter those with “distorted mindset”, a dig at opposition parties, and said they, especially Congress, have no real issues against the Modi dispensation. “We will expose those we are trying to disrupt our journey on the path to progress over fabricated issues. We will take them in Parliament and on streets… We will not let Congress succeed. Our state governments, our chief ministers are doing a very good work and doing it with honesty,” Naqvi quoted Shah as saying.

Vyapam scam : Sonia, Rahul to hold ‘silent protest’ in Parliament today

The Rajya Sabha was adjourned four times, as the Congress continued to insist on the resignation of the Swaraj for her alleged involvement in helping Lalit Modi.

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AFP
Congress President Sonia Gandhi along with party vice-president Rahul Gandhi and other leaders will hold a silent protest on Wednesday at the Gandhi Statue in the Parliament over the Vyapam scam. Senior Congress leaders Kamal Nath and Jyotiraditya Scindia are also likely to move an adjournment motion in the Parliament over the scam. Meanwhile, the BJP held a parliamentary party meeting on Wednesday as the government seeks to firms its strategy for the monsoon session which was rocked by the Lalit Modi episode on the opening day.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The Rajya Sabha was adjourned four times on Tuesday, as the Congress continued to insist on the resignation of the Swaraj for her alleged involvement in helping Lalit Modi. Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu slammed the opposition, saying it is not ready for a discussion over Swaraj”s resignation and is only interested in ”mud-slinging”.

May the best bargainer win: Backroom negotiators in rival camps will decide monsoon session’s fate

The BJP should start worrying if its own MP and former chief minister is getting ‘carried away by the Congress propaganda.’

Disassociating itself from Shanta Kumar’s letter bomb to party chief Amit Shah, BJP leaders Rajiv Pratap Rudy argued that the former Himachal CM should not be taken seriously since he is under the influence of misinformation.

This is the best unintended compliment the BJP could have given to its arch rivals. If a veteran BJP leader is really vulnerable to the campaign against Vyapam deaths and links between Lalit Modi and senior party leaders, the Congress must be doing something right.

At least in the Rajya Sabha, the Congress strategy has paid off. The Samajwadis and Mayawati have joined the Congress chorus of ‘resignation first, debate later’. If the united Opposition doesn’t agree to anything less than the ouster of Sushma Swaraj, Vasundhara Raje and Shivraj Singh Chouhan, the BJP can kiss the monsoon session of Parliament good-bye; at least in the Rajya Sabha.

The BJP was hoping that there would be serious differences within the Opposition over the demand for resignation. The SP was expected to stab the Congress in the back and help the BJP run the House.

But, at least at the moment, the Opposition is singing in chorus.

ReutersReuters

Reuters

The BJP should get the credit–or the blame–for uniting the Opposition. During UPA-2, it had successfully led the assault on several ministers, leading to their exit. Now, it is being judged on the benchmark it had set.

“When the UPA was in power and the BJP was in the Opposition, we made a similar demand: ministers facing charges should resign and there should be an enquiry,” CPM leader Sitaram Yechury said, alluding to the BJP’s record in Parliament.

Will the BJP agree to the resignation of its senior leaders? No. Will the Opposition back down? It seems unlikely.

The fate of the monsoon session is now in the hands of backroom negotiators in the rival camps. If they manage to strike a deal that allows both sides to claim a semblance of victory, Parliament may be able to come out of this Catch-22 situation.

Even when the situation looks hopeless, never rule out a bargain in Parliamentary politics. Even as the government and the Opposition bicker on the floor, the backroom negotiators continue to meet and discuss deals.

For instance, the BJP may be toying with the idea of offering a partial surrender–reshuffle in the Cabinet to give new responsibilities to Swaraj, Raje and Chouhan at a later stage–in lieu of committed support to key legislations like the GST and Land Acquisition Bills. There is no guarantee that there would be consensus on a ‘give and take’ formula. But, it can’t be ruled out.

The Opposition has very little to gain from allowing the House to run and the government to transact business. It is happier creating hurdles in Parliament so that outside it the government can be called paralytic and anti-reform. The Opposition also gains from keeping Vyapam and Lalitgate alive because the allegations have dented the reputation of the BJP and rejuvenated its rivals.

At the end of the day, the BJP is the biggest loser if the session is washed out. Many of its key initiatives are stuck because of frequent disruptions, mostly because of self-goals earlier by the likes of Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti and Sakshi Maharaj. Ultimately, people remember a government for its achievements in Parliament, not for failures attributed to the influence of the Opposition propaganda.

Let the best bargainer win: Backroom negotiators will decide fate of monsoon session

The BJP should start worrying if its own MP and former chief minister is getting ‘carried away by the Congress propaganda.’

Disassociating itself from Shanta Kumar’s letter bomb to party chief Amit Shah, BJP leaders Rajiv Pratap Rudi argued that the former Himachal CM should not be taken seriously since he is under the influence of misinformation.

This is the best unintended compliment the BJP could have given to its arch rivals. If a veteran BJP leader is really vulnerable to the campaign against Vyapam deaths and links between Lalit Modi and senior party leaders, the Congress must be doing something right.

At least in the Rajya Sabha, the Congress strategy has paid off. The Samajwadis and Mayawati have joined the Congress chorus of ‘resignation first, debate later’. If the united Opposition doesn’t agree to anything less than the ouster of Sushma Swaraj, Vasundhara Raje and Shivraj Singh Chouhan, the BJP can kiss the monsoon session of Parliament good-bye; at least in the Rajya Sabha.

The BJP was hoping that there would be serious differences within the Opposition over the demand for resignation. The SP was expected to stab the Congress in the back and help the BJP run the House.

But, at least at the moment, the Opposition is singing in chorus.

ReutersReuters

Reuters

The BJP should get the credit–or the blame–for uniting the Opposition. During UPA-2, it had successfully led the assault on several ministers, leading to their exit. Now, it is being judged on the benchmark it had set.

“When the UPA was in power and the BJP was in the Opposition, we made a similar demand: ministers facing charges should resign and there should be an enquiry,” CPM leader Sitaram Yechury said, alluding to the BJP’s record in Parliament.

Will the BJP agree to the resignation of its senior leaders? No. Will the Opposition back down? It seems unlikely.

The fate of the monsoon session is now in the hands of backroom negotiators in the rival camps. If they manage to strike a deal that allows both sides to claim a semblance of victory, Parliament may be able to come out of this Catch-22 situation.

Even when the situation looks hopeless, never rule out a bargain in Parliamentary politics. Even as the government and the Opposition bicker on the floor, the backroom negotiators continue to meet and discuss deals.

For instance, the BJP may be toying with the idea of offering a partial surrender–reshuffle in the Cabinet to give new responsibilities to Swaraj, Raje and Chouhan at a later stage–in lieu of committed support to key legislations like the GST and Land Acquisition Bills. There is no guarantee that there would be consensus on a ‘give and take’ formula. But, it can’t be ruled out.

The Opposition has very little to gain from allowing the House to run and the government to transact business. It is happier creating hurdles in Parliament so that outside it the government can be called paralytic and anti-reform. The Opposition also gains from keeping Vyapam and Lalitgate alive because the allegations have dented the reputation of the BJP and rejuvenated its rivals.

At the end of the day, the BJP is the biggest loser if the session is washed out. Many of its key initiatives are stuck because of frequent disruptions, mostly because of self-goals earlier by the likes of Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti and Sakshi Maharaj. Ultimately, people remember a government for its achievements in Parliament, not for failures attributed to the influence of the Opposition propaganda.

Congress likely to move adjournment motion in Lok Sabha on Vyapam scam tomorrow

A decision to take up the Vyapam issue in a big way in Lok Sabha was taken at a meeting party Chief Sonia Gandhi and Vice President Rahul Gandhi had with party MPs soon after the House adjourned today after paying obituary references, party sources said

An adjournment motion on the Vyapam scam is likely to be moved by Congress in Lok Sabha giving a stormy start to the Monsoon Session on the first working day of the Lower House.A decision to take up the Vyapam issue in a big way in Lok Sabha was taken at a meeting party Chief Sonia Gandhi and Vice President Rahul Gandhi had with party MPs soon after the House adjourned today after paying obituary references, party sources said. Congress MPs also plan to stage a dharna on Wednesday in front of the statue of Mahatma Gandhi in the Parliament House complex to demand action against those involved in the scam which the party is insisting is bigger than the 2G spectrum allocation scam.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sonia and Rahul could participate in the dharna, the sources said. The opposition party has been demanding the resignation of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan insisting that a fair and impartial probe into the scam was not possible without his removal.Congress has decided to take up the issue of corruption in a major way in this session by raising the issue of Vyapam as also the controversy involving former IPL boss Lalit Modi. The party has been demanding the resignation of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje on the Lalit Modi issue.

Congress, BJP spar over Modi’s ’56-inch chest’

It will turn into 5.6 inches in six months, says Rahul * Rahul baby in diapers, counters BJP
Amit Bandre
dna
Just two days before the monsoon session of Parliament begins, the antagonism between the Congress and the BJP got fiercer. After Prime Minister Narendra Modi said “we all know how political damaads can be”, in an apparent reference to Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi said Modi’s 56-inch chest will turn into 5.6 inches in six months. The BJP retaliated saying the opposition leader’s behaviour was like that of a baby in diapers.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Speaking in Jammu at the centenary celebrations of former Jammu and Kashmir minister Girdhari Lal Dogra, Modi praised him as a good judge of people and said “the example of his good judgment can be seen in the son-in-law he chose” referring to finance minister Arun Jaitley who was present on the dais. Rahul Gandhi, while addressing party workers in Rajasthan a little later, attacked the Prime Minister. “This 56-inch chest will turn into 5.6 inches in six months. And who will turn this into 5.6 inches? It is the Congress party, people of the country, farmers and labourers,” Gandhi said in Jaipur on Friday.He also took on the government over the land acquisition bill and called the Vasundhara Raje government a “Lalit Modi sarkar” and reminded Modi of his pre-poll promise of “na khaoonga, na khane doonga”. He said the remote control of the Raje government was in London. Within minutes, an infuriated BJP made a point-by-point counter-attack. “I can’t call him a toddler. He has to grow out of his diapers. But his behaviour remains that of a baby in a diaper,” BJP leader Siddharth Nath Singh said at a press conference here. Extending what Singh described as unsolicited advice, he told the Congress leader to engage in “constructive” politics. “The 56-inch chest is not because of you (Congress) but because of the blessings and pride of crores of people and the nation…. Rahul and Congress should not make the mistake of measuring it as it will turn out costly for them,” he said. On Gandhi’s tirade on the land bill, saying the Congress will not allow an inch of land to be acquired under it, Singh said the party should tell how Vadra got “vast properties” in Haryana. The political discourse between the two sides is a sign of the likely faceoff in Parliament when it meets next week. The Opposition is expected to up its ante questioning the Prime Minister’s silence on the Lalit Modi row and the Vyapam scam. While the BJP seems reconciled to the fact that the Opposition furore is likely to disrupt the session, it is keen on passing some bills, including GST, to boost investor confidence.

PM Narendra Modi’s ’56-inch’ chest will be reduced to ‘5.6 inches’: Rahul Gandhi

“I liked the film Lagaan. In that film, the farmers were disunited, then they got together and protested against a British-imposed tax?..One British officer in the movie realized that he couldn”t help the farmers because his remote control was in London,” he added.

Rahul Gandhi

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Friday poked fun at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ’56-inch’ chest, saying his party and the people of this country will reduce it to 5.6 inches in the next six months. Addressing Congress workers here, Gandhi said that for the first time there is a government in the country which wants to help the opposition. “The Congress vice president said Prime Minister Modi, who made tall claims and promises before the Lok Sabha polls, is least concerned about farmers, as he has now occupied the top post. Now that he has become the PM, why should he be concerned about farmers? He made several promises, but empty ones,” he said. Highlighting the woes of farmers, Gandhi narrated their emotions and feelings which he experienced during his ‘padyatra’ yesterday.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> “I liked the film Lagaan. In that film, the farmers were disunited, then they got together and protested against a British-imposed tax?..One British officer in the movie realized that he couldn”t help the farmers because his remote control was in London,” he added. The Congress vice president also challenged Prime Minister Modi to bring back former IPL boss Lalit Modi. He alleged that the BJP Government in Rajasthan is being run by Lalit Modi from London. “As during the days of the British Raj, the remote control of the government here was in London. Similarly, the remote control of the Rajasthan Government is in London,” he said. “This government”s remote control is in London. He presses the button there and the reaction is seen here,” he added. Gandhi said that Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje has broken the law by helping Lalit Modi. He alleged that the Union Cabinet has only one minister and that is Prime Minister Modi. “The Cabinet doesn’t have an array of ministers, the Cabinet has only one minister that is (Narendra) Modi ji. It’s like a puppet show, where he is the puppeteer,” he said amid a thumping applause from the crowd. The Congress vice president also asked his party men to inculcate some discipline and stay united against the opposition.

Rahul Gandhi targets PM Modi over corruption allegations against BJP leaders

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his alleged failure to check corruption, reminding him of his remark that he will neither engage in graft himself nor allow others.

PTI
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his alleged failure to check corruption, reminding him of his remark that he will neither engage in graft himself nor allow others.”I have just one question. Mr Prime Minister, what you say must carry weight.”You said ‘na khaoonga, na khane doonga’ (will not engage in corruption myself, nor allow others). Why are you allowing corruption in Rajasthan? What are you doing to bring back Lalit Modi? Why are you not acting against Shivraj Singh Chouhan,” he said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress has been slamming the PM for not sacking Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje following revelations that she helped “fugitive” former IPL boss Lalit Modi. The party has also accused “bada Modi” (PM) of shielding “chhota Modi” (Lalit).”Of course,” Rahul said when asked whether the beleaguered Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan should quit in the wake of the Supreme Court ordering a CBI inquiry into the Vyapam scam.Congress has been demanding resignations of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Raje for helping Lalit Modi, of HRD Minister Smriti Irani for misrepresenting facts about her educational qualifications, andMaharashtra minister Pankaja Munde for her alleged involvement in a “scam” by clearing purchases worth Rs 206 crore on a single day without inviting tenders in violation of the norms.It is also seeking resignation of Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh in the wake of a “rice scam” in which Rs 36,000 crore are alleged to have been misappropriated.

Lalit Modi’s name was recommended for Padma award in previous Raje tenure: Rajasthan Congress

Seizing the opportunity, PCC President Sachin Pilot alleged that former IPL chief Modi “institutionalised” corruption in Rajasthan during the previous term of Chief Minister Raje.
File Photo
PTI
Rajasthan Congress on Wednesday opened another front against Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje as it cited media reports claiming that Lalit Modi’s name was recommended for Padma award during her previous tenure.Seizing the opportunity, PCC President Sachin Pilot alleged that former IPL chief Modi “institutionalised” corruption in Rajasthan during the previous term of Chief Minister Raje.”The latest revelation that the then state government led by Raje in 2007 had recommended Modi’s name for Padma award has again substantiated close relations of Raje with Modi,” Pilot said in a statement in reaction to a media report.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Corruption was institutionalised during the earlier BJP regime and Lalit Modi played very important and crucial role in flourishing corruption,” he alleged.The Congress MP alleged that Lalit Modi had a big “interference” in government’s functioning that time. He also attacked the BJP central leadership for not taking action against the embattled chief minister.”Central leadership of BJP is not taking any action against Raje despite all such revelations which shows that the party leadership had its nod to all irregularities committed during Raje’s previous term as Chief Minister,” Pilot said.When contacted, the then Secretary of Rajasthan Sports Council, UD Khan, who reportedly recommended Modi’s name to the state government to be forwarded to the Centre for Padma award in 2007 on ground of business and contribution in cricket, said that “any comment in this regard can be made only after examining files of that time.”External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Raje have been facing flak for “helping” Modi in procuring travel documents in the UK, a country which he has made his home to avoid legal processes in India.Raje came under fire after Lalit Modi’s lawyers released an unsigned set of papers which they said was a secret witness document by Raje favouring Modi’s immigration plea in a London court.As per the documents Raje wanted to appear as a witness on the condition that Indian authorities are not told about it.The chief minister’s son, Dushyant Singh, was under attack over media reports that his company received Rs 11.63 crore in investments from Lalit Modi in 2008.

Vyapam scam a silly issue, says Sadananda Gowda, retracts comment later

In controversial remarks, Law Minister DV Sadananda Gowda on Tuesday termed the Vyapam scam as a “silly issue” on which Prime Minister Narendra Modi need not comment but shortly later retracted saying he was referring to the Lalit Modi row.

In controversial remarks, Law Minister DV Sadananda Gowda on Tuesday termed the Vyapam scam as a “silly issue” on which Prime Minister Narendra Modi need not comment but shortly later retracted saying he was referring to the Lalit Modi row.”See, certain issues which are so simple issues, so silly issues that need not be answered by the Prime Minister. Our Home Minister (Rajnath Singh), ministers of concerned departments and even my party (BJP) president Amit Shah have answered everything. For each and every silly issue Prime Minister has to answer, it is not fair,” he said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Gowda said if there is a serious issue which is in the larger interest of the country, then the Prime Minister should be “requested” to give an answer. “This is a very simple issue,” he said.He was responding to a question on the demand of the opposition that Prime Minister Modi should speak out on the matter.To a query on a CBI probe into the scam, the Law Minister said law and order is a state subject.”The state has already initiated a SIT and they are going ahead with investigation…of course a series of deaths have occurred in the last few months. It is a matter of concern. I do concede, I don’t dispute that. But still it is a state subject…a suo motu CBI investigation cannot be conducted unless state government requests for CBI investigation,” he said.But shortly later, as his remarks drew derisive comments, his office issued a statement saying he did not refer to Vyapam case as simple and silly. “He (Gowda) used the words simple and silly with reference to Lalit Modi issue. He said honourable Prime Minister need not answer queries related to linking Lalit Modi issue with Vyapam case. He, in fact, stated that Vyapam case is a matter of serious concern, which was not shown on TV channels. He once again reiterates he did not refer to Vyapam case a simple issue,” the statement said.

Lalit Modi’s lawyer returns Enforcement Directorate’s summons to ex-IPL commissioner

Lalit Modi’s lawyer has returned the summons issued to the former IPL boss by the Enforcement Directorate, saying he was not authorised to receive them, the Central agency said on Tuesday.

Getty Images
Lalit Modi’s lawyer has returned the summons issued to the former IPL boss by the Enforcement Directorate, saying he was not authorised to receive them, the Central agency said on Tuesday.Advocate Mehmood M Abdi, who represents Modi, in a statement said, “I have not recieved any such summons”.”ED has Modi’s address in the UK. They are required to serve him as per the procedure prescribed in law,” Abdi said. The Central agency had last week issued summons to Modi in a money-laundering case registered against him here, seeking his presence at its office within three weeks.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It was returned by his lawyer who said he was not authorised by Lalit Modi to receive it, an ED officer said on Tuesday.The case relates to a 2008 deal between World Sports Group (WSG) and Multi Screen Media (MSM) for television rights of Indian Premier League (IPL) worth Rs 425 crore.In 2008, BCCI awarded 10-year media rights to WSG for US $918 million. WSG entered into a deal with MSM to make Sony the official broadcaster. The contract was replaced a year later with a nine-year deal where MSM paid US $1.63 billion.The ED started a probe in 2009 under Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) to investigate allegations that payment of Rs 425 crore facilitation fee by MSM Singapore to WSG Mauritius was made in an illegal way.

ED issues summons to Lalit Modi in connection with money laundering case

Mumbai: The Enforcement Directorate has issued summons to ex-IPL boss Lalit Modi in connection with an alleged money-laundering case registered against him in Mumbai.

ED issued summons to Lalit Modi. Reuters

ED issued summons to Lalit Modi. Reuters

“Summons were issued last week to Modi through his attorney, who appeared before us for an adjudicatory hearing,” an ED source said.

According to the source, Modi has been asked to appear in three weeks.

Earlier last week, the agency also recorded the statement of former BCCI chief N Shrinivasan.

The case relates to a 2008 deal between World Sports Group (WSG) and Multi Screen Media (MSM) for television rights of Indian Premier League (IPL) worth Rs 425 crore.

BCCI, through Shrinivasan, filed an FIR in Chennai in 2010 under various provisions of the IPC, while two years later, the ED registered a case under Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in the matter.

In 2008, the BCCI awarded 10-year media rights to WSG for USD 918 million. In the same year, WSG entered into a deal with MSM to make Sony the official broadcaster. The contract was replaced a year later with a nine-year deal where MSM paid USD 1.63 billion.

The ED started a probe in 2009 under Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) to investigate allegations that payment of Rs 425 crore facilitation fees by MSM Singapore to WSG Mauritius was made in an illegal way.

The payments were made to “unauthorised beneficiaries” and not the cricketing regulating bodies as per the terms of the contract, ED said.

PTI

ED issues summons to Lalit Modi in money laundering case

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Monday issued summons to former IPL commissioner Lalit Modi in a money laundering case.

Getty Images
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Monday issued summons to former IPL commissioner Lalit Modi in a money laundering case.According to NDTV, the ED has also set a three-month deadline for Modi to respond to the summons. The ex-IPL commissioner has been asked by ED to explain the charges against him.Earlier, the ED was in the process of serving final penalty notices in 16 alleged forex violation cases amounting to an estimated Rs 1,700 crore against Modi and others as part of its wide-ranging probe in the alleged financial irregularities in various editions of the IPL.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Apart from these cases, two other instances of suspected contravention of foreign exchange laws and hawala transactions are also being investigated by the central probe agency and these include investigations on the role of Modi.According to Zee Media, investigation in a third case of money laundering against the former cricket czar is also ‘underway’ which is related to the alleged misappropriation of funds in allotment of cricket media rights by BCCI in 2009.About 16 cases being probed under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) are in the final stages of adjudication. Final orders for penalty will be served in the coming months against the accused which includes all the important functionaries of the IPL and BCCI, including Modi.The cases amount to violations of an estimated Rs 1,600 crore and the the maximum penalty that can be slapped on the accused could be three times of this amount, according to news reports.

Congress demands CBI probe in Vasundhara Raje-Dushyant Singh-Lalit Modi deals

“The black money routed through Lalit Modi was deposited in the accounts of Raje and Dushyant and BJP was silent on the issue of black money”, Congress leader Gurudas Kamat said here while addressing party workers.

AICC general secretary Gurudas Kamat on Saturday demanded a CBI probe into the alleged money deals worth crores of rupees between Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, her MP son Dushyant Singh and the tainted former IPL chief Lalit Modi.”The black money routed through Lalit Modi was deposited in the accounts of Raje and Dushyant and BJP was silent on the issue of black money”, the Congress leader said here while addressing party workers.”CBI probe be ordered into the money deals struck among Raje, her son Dushyant and Modi”, he said, adding investigation be made under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”In view of present political circumstances and the Raje government’s volatile situation, there is a possibility of mid-term Assembly polls in Rajasthan. Hence the party workers should get ready for polls, and uproot the BJP which is involved in neck-deep corruption. Next government in Rajasthan would be of Congress party”, Kamat said calling upon the workers.Dholpur City Palace was a property of government, and Raje and her son had no legal right in it, Kamat alleged.Accepting BJP’s allegation why Congress did not take any action against Raje and her son during its tenure in Dholpur Palace matter in Rajasthan, Kamat said it was “our mistake”.”But Rs 100 cr obtained from Modi were invested in Dholpur Palace to convert it into a hotel”, he blamed.Also addressing the workers, PCC president Sachin Pilot alleged that there was no action, arrest or resignation of those whose names figured in black money scams, because Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intentions were not clear and pure.On one hand the farmers were committing suicide, on the other hand PM was undertaking foreign tours one after another, Pilot remarked.

Not just Lalit Modi: BCCI, Srinivasan, Sundar Raman are ED targets too

The image currently being painted of Lalit Modi as a one-man violator of laws is a fake.

A basic reading of the Enforcement Directorate notices that Lalit has posted on his website prima facie indicts a whole host of people from within and without the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) for violating the Foreign Exchange Management Act (Fema).

One name that comes up repeatedly is former BCCI President N Srinivasan, who is Lalit’s bete noire. But while Lalit was banished from the board and fled to London, Srinivasan rose to become BCCI president before the Supreme Court stepped in last year and said he couldn’t be president and own an IPL team too due to conflicts of interest (which was obvious to everyone but Srinivasan and the BCCI).

Lalit Modi is being unfairly singled out. Getty SportsLalit Modi is being unfairly singled out. Getty Sports

Lalit Modi is being unfairly singled out. Getty Sports

Another name that pops up more than once is that of Sundar Raman, who was the IPL’s chief operating officer under Lalit, and continued to be so under Srinivasan. He still continues in that role.

The most strident charge against Lalit involves the BCCI, Multi-Screen Media (MSM), the World Sport Group (WSG) and the rights to the IPL. This is the case that features in the so-called facilitation fee of Rs 425 crore that MSM paid WSG to acquire the rights to IPL for the Indian subcontinent from 2009 to 2017.

Srinivasan claimed that Lalit hid the details of the deal from the board, but the ED found otherwise. It states clearly in its notice dated 19 January, 2015, that aside from Lalit, Srinivasan and Sundar Raman were acquainted with the details of the “Deed for provision of Facilitation Services”.

“Shri N Srinivasan, Lalit Kumar Modi, Paul Manning [of IMG] and Sundar Raman were in-charge of and responsible to the BCCI for the conduct of its business pertaining to the said transaction,” and thereby contravened the abovesaid provisions of Section 3(d) of FEMA, 1999 and rendered themselves liable to be proceeded under Section 13 of Fema, 1999”, the report states.

The list of names doesn’t end there either. Others the ED consider to be in violation of the act include NP Singh and Man Jit Singh, the current CEO and non-executive chairman of MSM respectively, as well as WSG CEO Andrew Georgiou and Venu Nair, their South Asia head.

Their organisations – the BCCI, The World Sport Group (Mauritius) and MSM Satellite (Singapore) – don’t escape censure either. They all “appear to have contravened the provisions of section 3(d) of Fema, 1999, and thereby rendered themselves liable to be proceeded under Section 13 of Fema, 1999,” says the report.

The issue is further complicated because MSM filed a case in the Bombay High Court against WSG in 2010 to recover the money paid to them (Rs 125 crore of Rs 425 crore), but the Indian Supreme Court ruled in January 2014 that the dispute should be handled by arbitration in Singapore, which is what the contract between the two parties calls for.

If the arbitrator rules that the fee was a legitimate business transaction, then the BCCI’s case against Lalit would collapse like a stack of matches in a blizzard.

Yet somehow nobody is talking about all this.

Another example is the charge that the BCCI transferred foreign exchange illegally to South Africa in 2009, when the IPL was moved out of India. The notice finds fault with the BCCI, then president Shashank Manohar, Srinivasan, Sundar Raman, then chief administrative officer Ratnakar Shetty, MP Pandove, the treasurer at the time, Prasanna Kannan, an India Cements employee who was working for Raman, and Nazeer Khan, the chief manager of the Jaipur Branch of the State Bank of Travancore, which conducted the transaction.

This is in addition to indicting the BCCI and the State Bank. That’s a whole lot of people who are going unnoticed for the same crimes that Lalit is supposed to have committed.

The BCCI may cry itself hoarse about how Lalit pulled the wool over its eyes but that is actually the BCCI trying to obfuscate the issue. The truth of the matter is probably that the BCCI was happy to endorse whatever Lalit was doing until the other power brokers in the board decided he was getting too big and had to fail.

If Lalit Modi is guilt of any of these violations, at the very least so is the BCCI, Srinivasan, Sundar Raman and a host of others. This witch hunt of one man ought to end. The only purpose it serves is disguise the real state of affairs.

Congress has scored another own-goal on Lalit Modi job offer to Swaraj Kaushal

The dirty tricks department of the Congress party is working overtime to find something to beat the BJP government at the centre and states with. The latest is the charge that on 15 April 2015, Lalit Modi had offered the job of alternate director to Swaraj Kaushal in Indofil Industries Ltd, one of the group companies controlled by his family, as quid pro quo for getting Sushma Swaraj, External Affairs Minister, to intercede on his behalf for obtaining travel documents from the British government.

Lalit Modi. ReutersLalit Modi. Reuters

Lalit Modi. Reuters

It redounds to the credit of Kaushal that he did not accept the offer, as clarified by him and KK Modi, father of Lalit Modi. Section 161(2) of the Companies Act, 2013, which regulates the appointment of alternate directors, has not yet been notified. So much so that section 313 of the Companies Act, 1956, the predecessor law, is still in force. Alternative directors come in handy for non-resident directors of joint venture companies in India – i.e. companies where a foreign company is the FDI partner. It is de rigueur for such non-resident directors to nominate Indian proxies to do their bidding at board meetings though the law requires the board to appoint an alternate director and not the expat director himself.

An alternate director can be appointed only if the original director is away from the state in which the board meetings are ordinarily held for not less than three months. In many Indian companies where foreign companies call the shots, a farce is enacted by making a pliable Indian stand in for several non-resident directors at the same time. The new law enshrined in section 161 (2) of the Companies Act 2013 says a person can stand in for only one original director. It also rightly talks of the original director being away from India rather than from the state where the board meetings are normally held. This is in recognition of the reality that the regime is by and large used by non-residents. However, it does not cover a purported “fugitive” appointing a stand-in director.

Be that as it may, Lalit Modi knew on 15 April 2015 that he is not going to return to India within the next three months and, therefore, proposed the name of Kaushal as alternate director to stand in for him. Indeed he would have had to do Modi’s bidding because section 313 says in so many words that the purpose of appointing an alternate director is to act on behalf of the original director. Lalit Modi might have sought to reward Kaushal for the so-called act of influence peddling by his wife Sushma Swaraj, but by rejecting the offer Kaushal has saved embarrassment for himself, his wife, and indeed the entire ruling NDA at the centre.

That is why the Congress has scored a self-goal. Had Kaushal accepted the offer, the Congress’ charge would have carried conviction and indeed it could have gone to town with another charge of impropriety by Sushma Swaraj. But by rejecting the offer Kaushal saved the day. Indeed, the Congress would look sheepish if people understand the true import of Kaushal’s rejection. To be sure, alternate directorship is not a great honour for any appointee, since the status is that of a stooge, but Kaushal would have courted trouble for himself and his wife had he accepted the offer and the remuneration that goes with the office.

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi is a no mean lawyer. Of all the persons in Congress, he should not have led the charge against Sushma Swaraj on this account. It has fizzled out even before it was hurled. The Congress has truly got egg on its face by trying to make a villain out of Kaushal who, in fact, showed remarkable prescience in rejecting the offer.

Acceptance of a bribe or a quid pro quo is a crime but anyone who rejects such overtures actually grows in stature. It is a common joke in bureaucratic circles that a minister or bureaucrat sometimes contrives to institute a CBI inquiry against himself or his family members with an eye on the clean chit that would send his stock soaring. It cannot be anybody’s case that Kaushal got Lalit Modi to make an offer so he could reject just to send his stock skyhigh.

Levity apart, the Congress’ charge lacks in substance and has, in fact, come as manna from heaven for a beleaguered foreign minister. That Kaushal gets a retainership from the Modi family companies is beside the point because he has been offering his legal services for more than two decades and none of this had anything to do with favours from Sushma Swaraj. In any case, it is ridiculous to suggest that Sushma Swaraj would have stuck her neck out to obtain a bit of income for her husband as it emerges, in hindsight, that her interceding in the matter did not result in any dilution of any charges against Lalit Mod. The favour she did was no big deal – once again in retrospect – because the Delhi High Court had restored his passport.

Lalit Modi’s job offer to Swaraj’s husband: Will Modi be forced to sack foreign minister?

In fresh trouble for the Modi government, two cases of alleged conflict of interest involving External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and former Indian Premier League (IPL) commissioner Lalit Modi were revealed on Wednesday.

In the first case, a letter dated 15 April, 2015 to the company secretary of Indofil, Lalit Modi sought the appointment of Sushma Swaraj’s husband Swaraj Kaushal as the alternate director of the company. The letter was subsequently withdrawn on 23 April. In a second instance, it was revealed that Swaraj Kaushal and Sushma Swaraj’s daughter Swaraj Bansuri are both legal counsels for Lalit Modi, and live with the External Affairs Minister.

The new controversy gave more ammunition for the Congress to target the Narendra Modi government in the escalating Lalit Modi row as the opposition party raised questions of conflict of interest and again demanded Sushma Swaraj’s resignation.

The opposition said it was “totally irrelevant” that Kaushal did not eventually accept the offer.  Congress have put forth six demands including making public minutes of a meeting it claimed Swaraj had with UK High Commissioner James Bevan in which she had favoured grant of travel documents to Lalit Modi. The party even wants the Prime Minister to answer whether any Union Minister’s relative received any job offer from Lalit Modi recently

Times Now reported that Sushma Swaraj was huddled at her residence in Lutyen’s Delhi, meeting her board of secretaries after she was pushed into a corner post the latest controversy which alleges that her husband Swaraj Kaushal was offered the position of director to alternate for the controversial former IPL chief on the board of Indofil Industries, an integrated chemical company.

“The prime minister owes it to the nation to break his silence on the issue,” senior Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi told the media.

“You (PM) are maintaining a deafening silence. They (BJP) are trying to brazen it out. We demand that the silence should be broken. It is a situation wherein more you try to hide, the more the truth comes out,” Singhvi said.

He said the Modi government seemed to be espousing different rules of morality for its own ministers.

Any attempts by the “London-based Modi to divert attention from the India-based Modi would not succeed”, Singhvi said.

Documents released on Wednesday show that the former Indian Premier League chairman offered a job to Sushma’s husband Swaraj Kaushal, months after India’s external affairs minister helped the tainted businessman obtain travel documents in the United Kingdom.Lalit who is being probed by the Enforcement Directorate(ED) for alleged money laundering, later withdrew the offer before it could be considered by the Board. He is currently based in the UK.

Swaraj in a file photo. AFP imageSwaraj in a file photo. AFP image

Swaraj in a file photo. AFP image

Kaushal acknowledged that he had been offered a position on the Indofil board. Stating that he is a lawyer for Lalit Modi for over 20 years, Kaushal said he was offered to be alternate director on Indofil board but he did not give his consent and that the request was withdrawn.

K K Modi, Lalit’s father and CMD of Indofil, said the proposal was withdrawn before it could be brought for consideration by the board. “So the board never considered that request. That’s the current situation,” he said. “Lalit didn’t give him (Swaraj Kaushal) power but a proposal that Kaushal be appointed as alternate director of company,” Modi said, adding “(when) he’s not on the board so where is the conflict of interest”.

“No director can be appointed without following the rules and regulations which are laid out by law,” Modi said.

But Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala trained his guns on Sushma Swaraj, asking her to come clean on the Lalit Modi issue.

“Sushma Swaraj must tell the people of the country how many times she has met Lalit Modi or if any of her family members had been in touch with the fugitive,” he said.

Surjewala demanded that the BJP government make public all letters exchanged between the previous UPA government and authorities in Britain over the Lalit Modi issue.

Taking a dig at the Modi government, the Congress leader said: “From Maulana Masood Azhar to Lalit Modi, from Kandahar to London, the NDA government has been helping such people on humanitarian grounds.”

Surjewala demanded the resignations of Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje.

“During the UPA government’s tenure, the Congress got the then foreign ministers Madhav Singh Solanki and Natwar Singh to resign on moral grounds. Prime Minister Narendra Modi should also follow suit and demand the resignations of Sushma Swaraj and Raje on moral grounds,” he said.

Singhvi said the fact that Swaraj Kaushal did not take up the offered job was not relevant. “To have a fugitive, to have the foreign minister’s husband being offered a job is enough,” he said.

“Does this justify the prime minister’s silence? Different ministers are saying there is no stigma. There is no guilt. Who is giving this certificate of innocence? The BJP ministers,” the Congress leader said.

Questioning the clean chit to the ministers by the BJP, he said: “Has the judgment been given by the Delhi High Court? There is a direct factual evidence of deceit and avoidance in the highest echelons of government.”

BJP said the Congress has run out of ideas and is desperately “clutching at straws”.

“Very routinely people are requested to be directors, lawyers, advocates. The Congress has run out of ideas and is desperately clutching at straws,” BJP leader Nalin Kohli said.

With inputs from Agencies

Property of Rajesthan? Amul’s latest ad takes potshot at Rajasthan CM Vasundhara Raje

Visit link: Property of Rajesthan? Amul’s latest ad takes potshot at Rajasthan CM Vasundhara Raje

Modi, Hemant or Dushyant: Who really owns the iconic Dholpur palace?

Who owns Dholpur Palace? How did Dushyant Singh get possession of the property? How did Lalit Modi become a stakeholder in the palace?

On Monday, the Congress claimed Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and her son’s partner Lalit Modi usurped Dholpur Palace from the government. The party quoted her estranged husband Hemant Singh to claim that Dholpur Palace was handed over to the government nearly four decades back.

The Dholpur Palace. Image courtesy: http://dholpurpalace.com/The Dholpur Palace. Image courtesy: http://dholpurpalace.com/

The Dholpur Palace. Image courtesy: http://dholpurpalace.com/

“Today, we present you the documents where Lalit Modi and Vasundhara Raje changed government property into personal property. In 1954, the Dholpur Riyasat merged with the Union in Independent India and in 1977 the Dholpur Palace was made government property. Despite the Dholpur Palace being the property of the government, Raje and Lalit Modi proceeded to convert it into a high-end private luxury hotel,” Congress leader Jairam Ramesh alleged. He said Raje’s husband had admitted in 1980 that the Palace belongs to the government.

The story of the palace is complicated. For nearly 30 years, Raje’s husband Hemant Singh and his son Dushyant fought for it before striking a compromise.

In the summer of 2006, in the middle of this grim domestic dispute which often turned ugly, I met Hemant Singh, scion of the royal family of Dholpur, at a hotel in Connaught Palace.

I had sought an appointment with him to talk about a story I was researching for a national daily. Accompanied by his lawyer and a few assistants, including a feisty young girl who introduced herself as Rudrani Singh, the CM’s estranged husband insisted on checking my identification card and other details. Only after being satisfied, he decided to speak on the subject: the dispute over Dholpur Palace.

Hemant Singh is the last recognised titular king of Dholpur, a Jat kingdom just a few kilometers from Agra. His mother Raja Beti (Urmila Devi) was the daughter of Raja Udaibhan Singh. In 1954, when Udaibhan Singh died, the late king’s widow adopted her grandson as the heir to the throne.

In 1972, Hemant got married to Vasundhara Raje. But soon after the birth of their only child Dushyant, the marriage turned acrimonious and the two separated. A bitter battle for divorce followed. The marriage was annulled by a court, but the decree was challenged by Raje.

While the marital discord was being heard by a court, in 1978, Dushyant Singh’s maternal grandmother Vijayaraje Scindia filed a case for a share in the property owned by the Dholpur royals.

The disputed holdings included the City Palace of Dholpur, a house in Delhi’s Panchsheel Marg, a number of vintage cars, including a few Roll’s Royces, agricultural land, a lodge at Shimla. Together they were estimated to be worth around 250 crore.
The dispute went on for three decades. But in 2007, when Raje was the chief minister of Rajasthan, it was settled and legally approved by the Additional District Judge of Fast Track Court Number 2 in Bharatpur.

Hemant Singh got rights over the property in Delhi while Dushyant became the owner of the Shimla lodge and the properties in Dholpur including the City Palace, adjoing land and palaces, a lush-green garden, around two dozen vintage cars and the jewels kept in the treasury at Dholpur Palace.

The palace was soon rechristened Raj Niwas Palace and converted into a hotel by Dushyant Singh. A few days ago it was revealed that former IPL chief Lalit Modi had invested in Dushyant’s company Niyati Heritage, which claims to own Dholpur Palace. Modi bought shares in the company for an astronomical price of nearly Rs 96000 per share. Raje also claims to have purchased shares in Niyant Heritage but just at a price of Rs 10 per share. Since Niyant Heritage has not filed its balance sheets for the past five years, the whole business is sounded in secrecy.

So, why did Hemant and Dushyant fight over a property that didn’t belong to them? Why did Hemant Singh claim, as the Congress alleges, that the Palace was acquired by the government in 1997?

One theory is that several facts were hidden from the court and the government (under Raje) did not put up its case strongly. The other explanation is that Hemant Singh found it convenient to give up rights over a disputed Palace in return for a clean title of the Delhi property. And, the third explanation, of course, is that the Palace was never acquired and was always a property of the Dholpur royals.

The Raje-Modi-Dushyant story is still unfolding. Secrets from the dark corridors of the Dholpur Palace are likely to stumble out soon.

Lalit Modi row: Prime Minister does not need to react to everything, says Union Minister VK Singh

In reply to a question that the Ministry of External Affairs has not responded to an RTI query on Lalit Modi, he said RTI has some rules and the Ministry must have given answer in accordance with that.
File Photo
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Dismissing criticism over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s silence on the Lalit Modi controversy, Union Minister V K Singh on Monday said it is not necessary for the Prime Minister to react to everything and he will speak when the right time comes.”Why do you want to force upon him that he should speak and speak? It is not appropriate to react to everything. If a news channel is running something, is it right on the part of the Prime Minister to speak on that? When the right time will come, the Prime Minister will speak,” Singh said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In reply to a question that the Ministry of External Affairs has not responded to an RTI query on Lalit Modi, he said RTI has some rules and the Ministry must have given answer in accordance with that.”Those who have to criticise, will do it anyways. So there is no need to talk about that because often unnecessary things are blown out of proportion. These things have no ground,” he said on the sidelines of 9th Statistics Day here.V K Singh is Minister of State for External and Overseas Indian Affairs apart from holding independent charge as Minister of State for Statistics and Programme Implementation.Some channels have been running news on Lalit Modi episode for over half a month now and they must have been acting at someone’s behest, he said in reply to a question that the MEA is hiding information.”The channels have been doing this for the last 17 days. I ask them who has given them a contract for that,” he said.On the demand for resignation of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje before commencement of monsoon session of Parliament, he said it is the job of the opposition to speak and let them speak.Swaraj and Raje have been facing the heat from various quarters, including from within the BJP, over their alleged role in facilitating travel related documents to former IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi, who had fled to London in 2010 citing threats to his family’s safety.Lalit is being probed by the Enforcement Directorate for his alleged role in embezzlement of funds and breaking code of conduct.

Sushma Swaraj’s ministry declines information under RTI on Lalit Modi’s passport issue

With External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj facing opposition onslaught over ‘Lalitgate’, her office has declined to provide information about the controversy surrounding restoration of former IPL boss Lalit Modi’s passport, drawing sharp criticism from Congress and the Left.

PTI
With External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj facing opposition onslaught over ‘Lalitgate’, her office has declined to provide information about the controversy surrounding restoration of former IPL boss Lalit Modi’s passport, drawing sharp criticism from Congress and the Left.Responding to an RTI plea containing seven questions, the External Affairs Ministry said, while a part of the queries did not come under the purview of the transparency law, regarding others it pleaded lack of information. The questions included one about who had taken a decision not appeal in the Supreme Court the Delhi High Court’s decision restoring Modi’s passport.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Kindly note that the office of External Affairs Minister (EAM) has informed that the questions in Serial 1 to 3 of your RTI does not seem to fall under the purview of the RTI act, 2005. As regards to queries Sl No 4 to 7, no information is available with EAM’s office,” the MEA said in its reply dated June 26 to Rayo, the applicant from Haryana.The MEA, however, said the application has been “transferred” to its Consular, Passport and Visa Division as well as to the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Home.The MEA’s action drew stinging criticism from the opposition, with Congress calling it against the “spirit” of RTI ACT and CPI(M) alleging the transparency law has been “sabotaged” by the Modi government. “This is against the spirit of the RTI ACT,” said senior Congress leader PC Chacko.”In fact, any private information need not be disclosed but here is a case which is affecting even the security of the country also and person who is fugitive, who is an absconder, against whom there is an inquiry going on… and when information is sought on that, it simply cannot be treated as a private matter,” Chacko said.

Sushma Swaraj, Vasundhara Raje should quit: RSS ideologue Govindacharya

RSS ideologue Govindacharya on Sunday said Sushma Swaraj and Vasundhara Raje should quit on moral grounds in the wake of the Lalit Modi controversy as from common man’s perception they are “guilty”.

PTI
RSS ideologue Govindacharya on Sunday said Sushma Swaraj and Vasundhara Raje should quit on moral grounds in the wake of the Lalit Modi controversy as from common man’s perception they are “guilty”.”They should do it like Advani had done it, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Sharad Yadav. There are many such examples and it will benefit the party,” Govindacharya said when asked whether the External Affairs Minister and the Rajasthan Chief Minister should resign in the wake of the raging row over the former IPL ccommissioner.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”It seems they(Swaraj and Raje) have given some help. They had good relations…like share issues or Dushyant Singh issue are concerned. From common man’s perception, they are guilty. Even if they resign on moral ground, if they were proved not guilty they can come back,” he told India Today.”The image of party and the government will improve. If they think to fight it legally then the issue will continue to stick as it happened in the Bofors issue,” he said.On External Affairs Minister’s defence that she helped Lalit Modi on humanitarian grounds as his wife was to be operated for cancer, Govindacharya said Swaraj should understand what she has said. “She should be cautious,” he said.

PR vs Politics: What should PM Modi’s approach be to the Sushma-Raje-Modi scandal?

New Delhi: In the aftermath of the Sushma Swarna-inspired, Vasundhara Raje-supported Lalit Modi controversy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi should be seething with anger. But so far, he has done a pretty good job of hiding his emotions. In fact, some might argue that he has done it a bit too well — seeming detached — and that isn’t always a good thing.

With Modi’s Mann ki Baat being scheduled for 1100 am on Sunday morning, there was a hope that he would perhaps finally break the self-imposed silence on the issue but instead, towards the end of the talk show, he only took a jibe at all those who were expecting him to make a political statement by saying, ‘Don’t expect me to use the show to make big political statements… I do that everyday. Here I want to talk about things that are close to my heart.’

PM Narendra Modi. PTIPM Narendra Modi. PTI

PM Narendra Modi. PTI

One would have thought corruption, rather the urge to rid the country of it, was pretty close to the PM’s heart as well. Nevertheless, it gave the Congress more ammo to go after the PM — who has now been rechristened ‘Maun Modi.’ Veteran Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad “was disappointed” and held a press conference soon after the Prime Minister’s Mann ki Baat radio address calling him a “Merchant of Dreams” and nothing else.

“The biggest promise PM Shri Modi made was to bring back Black Money to India, we request the PM to keep his promise,” he said, “While the PM identifies himself as a world leader, talks about the world, did he write a letter to bring back Lalit Modi to India?”

Nabi further added: “Khud kiye tumne apnee deewaron ke suraag, ab koi jhaank ke dekhen to kyun shikayat kee?”

So far, Modi has shown himself to be a master of PR. He wants to be in touch with things at the ground level, he tracks things on the net, he congratulates India’s achievers, he tweets out his thoughts, regularly airs his ‘Mann Ki Baat’ and even launched a Narendra Modi app recently to speak to his countrymen directly. But what good is all of that when he hasn’t shown enough concern and anger about the biggest scandal his government has been hit by to date.

When Nestle and Maggi didn’t respond after the recent reports that lead and MSG were found in their noodles, experts termed their response as robotic and complacent, and it hit them hard. Can Modi’s response to the Sushma-Raje-Modi controversy be termed similarly poor?

Good PR would have meant Modi coming out and address all Indians, assuring them that there would be no cover-up; assuring them that he would root corruption out no matter how ‘big’ the guilty party is; assuring that impropriety isn’t proper by his standards. Even if he needed time to find out to figure out whether the documents are authentic, he should have been able to do that by now, it has been two weeks since the scandal first broke in India and even longer since the Sunday Times in UK first wrote about it.

Instead, his silence allowed the opposition parties and Indians in general to speculate.

Does he have something to lose? Why is he backtracking? What happened to all his promises? Is this transparency? All in all, it paints him in a not-too-pleasant light. Just a word from him and the opposition would have had no plank to stand on and it would have convinced everyone that we have a PM who isn’t all talk — at least when it comes to corruption.

As Firstpost editor R Jagannathan wrote, “The time to break the silence is at hand, and Modi should now speak up – and act.”

He also pointed out that though the PM can speak and act when it involves his own cabinet colleagues – Sushma Swaraj and Smriti Irani – he cannot do so in the case of Rajasthan CM. “In a federal polity, it is not the job of the PM to act against Chief ministers, who are independently elected and accountable to the electorate and the law separately. The fact that Raje belongs to his own party does not over-rule federalism. Just as the PM cannot act against Akhilesh Yadav for the unspeakable things happening in UP, or against Mamata Banerjee for the violence and scams in her state, he cannot do so against Vasundhara Raje either.”

Indeed, what might be bad PR may also be good politics. If Modi says anything at the moment, he is committing himself in the public eye and refusal to follow through will hit him hard. By not saying anything; by sending Sushma Swaraj out of the country, he is hoping that the storm will eventually blow over. There are big political advantages to this — if he acts against Sushma or Raje or Smriti Irani — he will show himself to be a man who takes no prisoners. That isn’t something that the allies of the NDA or even the other leaders in his party will take to very calmly.

Our political system isn’t going to clean itself overnight. It will leave many other ‘corrupt,’ ‘helpful’ leaders feeling nervous and that wouldn’t help the BJP or Modi greatly given that the Bihar elections are just around the corner.

On Saturday, Firstpost‘s Akshaya Mishra wrote, “while the party suffers loss of credibility, the only person who is likely to come out unscathed and stronger from the latest development is Prime Minister Narendra Modi. By letting the party to take a call on Vasundhara, he has separated himself from the matter. His Manmohan Singh-like silence may have invited ridicule from the media, but it actually does his image more good than bad.”

And while parts of that may be true, there is no doubt that if he had indeed promised to act then to many in India, he would have shown himself to be the true antithesis of the Congress and proved that their decision to vote him and the BJP to power was indeed a correct one. But for now, everyone lies in wait, hoping that at some point the anger will boil over.

In LK Advani’s remarks, opposition parties see ‘hint’ to Swaraj, Raje to quit

In light of senior BJP leader LK Advani emphasising the need for probity in public life, opposition parties on Sunday said that Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje must “own up responsibility” in the Lalit Modi controversy.

PTI
In light of senior BJP leader LK Advani emphasising the need for probity in public life, opposition parties on Sunday said that Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje must “own up responsibility” in the Lalit Modi controversy.”It is a very clear indication from the senior-most leader of BJP that its ministers, when they are implicated, when there are allegations against them, should own up responsibility.”The Prime Minister should come out with a clear explanation. Nothing is happening. It is in this context that he (Advani) has given this opinion. So, I think that Advaniji’s opinion is the reflection of thinking in general of the people,” said senior Congress leader PC Chacko.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a veiled message to the Narendra Modi government in the wake of the row involving Swaraj and Raje, the BJP patriarch had on Saturday said there is a need to maintain probity in public life and recalled how he had resigned soon after his name cropped up in the Hawala scam.”The very mention of Advaniji’s resignation now means what? It is a hint that he wants that these two people should own moral responsibility,” added Chacko.Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said it was now clear that the ruling BJP does not intend to walk on the path of political morality.”They had claimed to be a party with a difference. What difference is that? They want to protect their own people…They might be feeling that if they take action against one it may trigger a process. By now, it is clear that they don’t intend to walk on the path of political morality. This is what Advaniji has also cautioned about,” Kumar said.Advani had resigned as an MP in 1996 following allegations of his involvement in the infamous Hawala scam. He was consequently re-elected in 1998 after his name was cleared.Entries found in the diaries of Hawala broker SK Jain were presented as crucial evidence against top politicians, including Advani, in the court by CBI.

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