Calling Lalit Modi a‘bhagoda’ (absconder), Bharatiya Janata Party MP R K Singh on Tuesday struck a discordant note over party leaders Sushma Swaraj and Vasundhara Raje extending help to the tainted former Indian Premier League boss, saying this is “legally and morally wrong”.
The former Union home secretary also urged the government to take all measures to bring Modi, who is currently in the UK, back to India to face the law.
Singh’s strong comments in the first public criticism by a BJP MP against the help extended to Modi by Swaraj, the external affairs minister, and Raje, the Rajasthan chief minister, came even as the Congress said Prime Minister Narendra Modi was “losing political capital” by trying to protect the two party leaders through his continued silence on the “indefensible issue”.
The comments came a day after Union Minister Nitin Gadkari met Raje in Jaipur and said the BJP as well as the central government are strongly behind her as “accusations” against her have “no substance” and that the allegations against her are baseless and she is “legally, logically, ethically completely correct”.
Gadkari’s defence came amid the raging row over the linkages of the chief minister and her son Dushyant with Lalit Modi who is facing an Enforcement Directorate probe for alleged money laundering in an IPL tournament.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who is under attack from the Opposition for describing the deal between Raje’s son and Lalit Modi as a “commercial loan transaction”, meanwhile, said in the US that assessing authorities would continue to do their job in probing the matter.
“If anybody helps a ‘bhagoda’ (fugitive), it is wrong. This is wrong legally as well as morally. If anybody meets a fugitive, it is absolutely wrong. Whosoever has helped him, I think it is completely wrong,” R K Singh said in Delhi.
The row involving Swaraj and Raje has snowballed into a major political storm for the Narendra Modi government even though BJP has defended both the leaders.
Singh said Lalit Modi had been evading judicial warrants and summons and he was clearly a fugitive and any help given to him or any meeting with him was wrong.
He did not name either Swaraj or Raje.
Asked if Lalit Modi was being “saved”, Singh said the departments concerned should be doing their job. “I have given my view,” he said when asked about BJP’s defence of both the leaders and added that he would not like to name individuals.
“All measures should be taken to bring him back to India so that he faces the law,” he said.
Swaraj and Raje have been facing flak for helping Lalit Modi in procuring travel documents in the UK, a country which he has made his home to avoid legal processes in India.
Rajasthan PCC President Sachin Pilot while targeting the prime minister demanded the resignation of Swaraj and Raje.
“PM’s words – na khaoonga na khane doonga (neither will I take bribe, nor will I allow anyone to take bribe) - have come to haunt him. He is losing political capital and he and his party have been fully exposed. BJP is obstinate on this issue but we will not let the issue die down,” he told reporters in Jaipur.