Furore over travel papers is 'political jamboree', says Lalit Modi's lawyer

Modi and foreign minister Sushma Swaraj have been at the centre of a controversy after it emerged that the latter had helped the beleaguered ex-IPL chief with his travel papers for flying to Portugal to be with his cancer-stricken wife

Tainted cricket administrator Lalit Modi’s lawyer yesterday blamed politicians for the controversy surrounding the former cricket official’s visit to Portugal last year to be with his ill wife.

Mehmood Abdi, Lalit Modi’s lawyer, said his client wouldn’t return to India until the “situation alters.” Pic/Satyajit Desai
Mehmood Abdi, Lalit Modi’s lawyer, said his client wouldn’t return to India until the “situation alters.” Pic/Satyajit Desai

He claimed there was nothing wrong in External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj helping out Modi with his travel papers since it was on humanitarian grounds for an Indian stuck in a foreign country. “Ever since his dispute with Shashi Tharoor, Mr Modi has been facing problems.

His security was withdrawn in India even though he was under threat from the underworld. His passport was revoked and the UPA government even tried to see to it that Modi couldn’t stay in the UK. They pressured the UK government to get Modi deported to India,” said Mehmood Abdi, Modi’s lawyer.

Abdi said Modi had exposed all “illegal affairs” of Shashi Tharoor, who was a senior minister in the UPA government. “That’s why UPA leaders are targeting him.” The former IPL chief is in the UK currently.

The controversy arose after British paper The Sunday Times reported on conversations between Modi, Swaraj and Indian-origin British lawmaker Keith Vaz, in which Vaz mentioned Swaraj’s name to facilitate Modi’s travel to Portugal to visit his ailing wife last year. Swaraj later claimed she had taken a “humanitarian” view of Modi’s case.

Abdi said that Modi’s consent as well as moral support was required for his wife, who has been suffering from cancer for the past 17 years. “So, if at all Sushma Swaraj helped Modi, what is wrong with it? As a foreign minister, it was her duty to help any Indian facing problems outside,”Abdi said.

‘Fake notices’
Abdi accused former BCCI chief N Srinivasan and his “gang” for circulating a “fake” blue corner notice. Blue corner notices are alerts put out by the Interpol at the request of an authorised organisation, concerning individuals accused of crimes.

“The blue corner notice has been fabricated and planted by then BCCI president N Srinivasan and his gang in BCCI to avoid Modi’s presence and (diminish) his importance in the BCCI,” Abdi said at a city hotel, adding that his client was in touch with the investigating agencies in UK and they know his address.

Asked if Modi helped Swaraj’s nephew gain admission to a UK university in 2013, Abdi said that if at all Modi could’ve helped, it wouldn’t have been much maybe amounting to helping out with accommodation. When a journalist asked if Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was behind the whole controversy, he said, “Why will Jaitley, himself a very senior minister, destabilise his own government?”

Abdi claimed the whole controversy was a “political jamboree” and that politicians were behind it. He also made it clear that Modi would reveal some big names who are supposedly behind this issue in a day or two. Asked when Modi would return to India, Abdi replied, “Until and unless the situation alters, I don’t think he will take a decision to come back to India.”

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