Sushma Swaraj-Lalit Modi Scandal: Congress Party Drags PM Modi

15/06/2015 5:54 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the media outside Parliament in New Delhi on April 20, 2015. As the Budget session of Parliament resumes, Prime Minister Narendra Modi thanked all parties for their co-operation in the previous parliamentary session and said that the second half of the session will also see a high level of constructive discussions with similar co-operation of all parties. AFP PHOTO / PRAKASH SINGH (Photo credit should read PRAKASH SINGH/AFP/Getty Images)

NEW DELHI -- If Prime Minister Narendra Modi is counting on the Lalit Modi-Sushma Swaraj controversy blowing over, he might have to devise another strategy for dealing with the biggest scandal to hit his government since he took office.

While Modi has maintained a stony silence about why his foreign minister was helping a fugitive procure travel documents, opposition parties have escalated their attack on the government.

On Monday, the Congress Party dragged Modi under the glare of suspicion by accusing the prime minister of giving Swaraj his "tacit and overt approval."

Read: Political Reactions On Lalit Modi-Sushma Swaraj Scandal

"It is hard to believe that the prime minister did not know about the help by the external affairs minister," Congress Party spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala told the media. "What is the relationship between Narendra Modi, Amit Shah (BJP chief) and fugitive Lalit Modi."

Surjewala said there were "serious doubts" regarding Modi's "knowledge and complicity" on the help extended to Modi. "Was the prime minister helping a money launderer?," he said. "People are asking whether 'Modi was helping Modi.'"

If these accusations against the prime minister proved correct then Modi would have lost the "moral right" to rule the country, Surjewala said. "The prime minister will have to resign," he said.

READ: The Emails In The Sushma Swaraj-Lalit Modi Scandal

READ: Sushma Swaraj Helped Lalit Modi Procure UK Travel Docs

On Sunday, Swaraj admitted on Twitter that she had helped Lalit Modi, the former Indian Premier League commissioner, to obtain travel documents on "humanitarian grounds" so that he could give consent for his wife's cancer treatment in Lisbon.

Laws in Portugal do not require consent for an adult. Modi, who is being probed by various agencies for money laundering and FEMA violations, is a fugitive from Indian law.

READ: 5 Reasons Why Sushma Swaraj's Defence Is Untenable

So far, the Modi government, the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) have backed Swaraj's justification of "humanitarian" intervention. BJP President Amit Shah said she acted on "humanitarian" grounds which did not raise questions of "morality."

"What she did is right, we justify it and the government stands with her," Home Minister Rajnath Singh said on Sunday.

After the political heat spread on Monday, it is unclear if the government will change its stance.

Meanwhile, a message posted on Twitter by former cricketer Kiriti Azad, a lawmaker from the BJP, hinted at an internal rift between the party.

In his tweet, Azad suggests that someone from inside the BJP had leaked the story to the media.

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