The Congress on Tuesday sought to make more trouble for the government on Lalitgate issue, putting forth six demands including making public minutes of a meeting it claimed External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had with United Kingdom High Commissioner James Bevan in which she had favoured grant of travel documents to Lalit Modi.
The party also wanted the prime minister to answer whether any Union minister's relative received any job offer from Lalit Modi recently.
Pitching for full disclosure by the government, Congress' chief spokesman Randeep Surjewala claimed that Swaraj has herself admitted that the meeting with the UK high commissioner had taken place. "Minutes of the meeting in which help for Lalit Modi was sought have been recorded. They are with the external affairs ministry and they should be made public," he told reporters.
Surjewala also demanded that any communication by Sushma Swaraj with Bevan or the UK foreign minister on the matter be released. He wanted the prime minister to explain whether any relative of a Union minister was made any job offer by Lalit Modi recently and what was the nature and type of the job offer.
Insisting that such an offer was indeed made, he said that there was no mention of it on the website of the PM though rules demand that any minister must keep the PM informed about any such offer.
Demanding sacking of Swaraj, he reminded the prime minister that the Congress had adhered to the "highest standards of propriety" by asking for resignation of Madhavsinh Solanki and Natwar Singh when allegations were made against them while they were external affairs minister. He said "moral and constitutional propriety" demands that the PM ask Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje to resign. He also demanded the resignation of HRD Minister Smriti Irani who is embroiled in a controversy over her educational qualifications.
On charges made by Lalit Modi against Congress leaders, Surjewala said the former Indian Premier League chief was trying to divert attention from the Congress demand of resignation of Swaraj and Raje.
"The 'chhota Modi' is helping the 'bada Modi'. He has become the ‘sankatmochak’ (troubleshooter).... The 'chhota Modi' is acting at the instance of someone within the government and the BJP.... These are preposterous allegations.”
"He is trying to divert attention from the demand of resignation," the spokesperson said, asserting that the Congress will "not lose focus and will not relent and will not stop".
The Congress attack has sharpened at a time when the monsoon session of Parliament was just 20 days away and is expected to be a stormy affair if the Lalitgate row continued.
Other demands by Surjewala included release of all correspondence made by the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance with the UK over the issue of extradition of Lalit Modi and the letters written by former finance minister P Chidambaram to the UK authorities on the issue.
The Congress leader said that Swaraj should also make a full disclosure of how many times she had telephonic talk with the "fugitive", how many times she or any member of her family have met him or have been in touch with e-mail and other communication.
Taking a dig at the prime minister, he said that Narendra Modi, who once spoke of "scam-free India" was in "maunyog" (silence) despite the fact that he has promised to the people to provide corruption-free and transparent governance.
Image: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj