Lalit Modi issue: Congress steps up attack on Sushma Swaraj

New Delhi: Congress today stepped attacked on External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj alleging there was "quid pro quo" involved in her "assistance" to Lalit Modi in obtaining British travel documents and demanded that the scam-tainted former IPL Commissioner be brought back and tried in India.

Congress national spokesperson P L Punia said, "There are circumstances which establish contact between Sushma Swaraj and Lalit Modi. As a quid pro quo, Sushma Swaraj has done favour to a tainted person who is accused of Rs 700 crore money laundering, tax evasion and several other charges.

"There is a notice which has been issued against him. But he provided special favours. Within 24 hours, Modi was given total clearance to travel abroad. There is official position that continues to be same. But unofficially, she provided him help."

Terming Swaraj's claim of helping Modi on "humanitarian" grounds as "totally bogus" and one not standing scrutiny of
facts, Punia told reporters here what has been said on behalf of the NDA government and BJP Chief Amit Shah in the
Minister's defence is "a lame excuse".

"According to Portuguese law, it is not required for husband to sign papers before his wife goes under surgery.
There was a circular from Government of India asking British Government not to allow him travel abroad. So, what the
minister is saying is very weird," he said. The Congress leader said that the Swaraj family has had "long association" with Modi and on the basis of favours it received from Modi, he was helped, Punia said.

"Our stand is very clear, whether it was during UPA government's time, whether it is now that in national interest
Lalit Modi should be taken to task, law must take its course, he should be brought back to India. Trial should be conducted here," he said.

On Samajwadi Party coming out in support of Swaraj, Punia said the Mulayam Singh Yadav-led party was free to express its views.

Swaraj was at the centre of a major row over helping Lalit Modi to obtain British travel documents but found strong
support from the government and BJP which rejected opposition demands for her resignation over alleged "impropriety".

The genesis of the controversy was disclosure of emails showing that she had spoken to Indian-origin British MP Keith
Vaz and its High Commissioner here James Bevan favouring the grant of travel documents to Modi to go to Portugal,
purportedly for his wife's cancer treatment in June last year.

Modi, who is wanted in India, has made London his home since 2010 to avoid a probe for alleged foreign exchange
regulation violations in the T20 cricket tournament held in South Africa in 2009. The previous UPA government had revoked his passport and had pressed for his extradition.

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