Lalit Modi visa row: Swaraj admits expediting travel documents; Cong questions PM Modi`s silence

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and former IPL chairman Lalit Modi.

New Delhi, June 14: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Sunday admitted that she helped expedite the travel documents of former Indian Premier League chairman Lalit Modi, enabling him to move from London, despite the red alert issued by the government.

Sharing her thoughts via a series of tweets, Swaraj said that she took a humanitarian view of Modi’s case since his wife was suffering from cancer.

“Sometime in July 2014 Lalit Modi spoke to me that his wife was suffering from Cancer and her surgery was fixed for 4th Aug 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 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.”

Swaraj further said that British MP Keith Vaz had spoken to her on the same, adding that she believes that giving an Indian citizen ’emergency travel documents’ cannot spoil relations between India and the UK.

“Keith Vaz also spoke to me and I told him precisely what I told the British High Commissioner.” “I genuinely believe that in a situation such as this, giving emergency travel documents to an Indian citizen cannot and should not spoil relations between the two countries.”

The minister also noted that the Delhi High Court in a later ruling restored Modi’s passport.

“I may also state that only a few days later, Delhi High Court quashed UPA Government’s order impounding Lalit Modi’s Passport on the ground that the said order was unconstitutional being violative of fundamental rights and he got his Passport back.”

Vaz, who is facing an inquiry in the UK over the role he played in Modi receiving his British travel papers, said that he had checked with the Indian government before taking any action, adding that he had received a ‘no objection’ from New Delhi.

According to reports, he has named Swaraj as the person he had been in contact with.

Cong questions PM Modi`s silence; Khurshid asks Swaraj to take responsibility

Meanwhile, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge on Sunday asked whether External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj acted on the orders of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and helped former IPL chairman Lalit Modi receive the travel documents.

Kharge, who is the Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, also asked Prime Minister Modi to issue a clarification on the matter.

Former external affairs minister Salman Khurshid, however, asked incumbent Sushma Swaraj to take responsibility of the ongoing controversy surrounding the travel documents issued to former IPL chairman Lalit Modi.

He said: “Well it is the ministry’s prerogative. It is really an internal matter for the Ministry of External Affairs and for the Ministry of Home Affairs. Whenever there is some question mark, then the Ministry of Home Affairs has to give clearance…If the minister feels that they have good reason to override any issue then they can do so, but the only thing is that whatever happens you got to take responsibility for it. It is the minister’s authority.”

Khurshid further asked the government to make its position clear on the issue.

(With Agency Inputs)

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