In his first interview since the biggest scandal to have hit the Narendra Modi Government at the centre, the former chairman of one of the most cash-rich sports league in India outlined how his close ties with two of India's most prominent political families helped him receive travel documents even when his passport was revoked by the Indian government.
Sitting near a beach by the Adriatic Sea in Montenegro, Lalit Modi confirmed his "close" relations with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje. Modi said Swaraj's husband had been his advocate for over 20 years and her daughter had provided him legal services for the past four years, but the family did not charge him any fee.
"We are very close," he told journalist Rajdeep Sardesai of the India Today news channel, who interviewed him on Tuesday. "We have a very good relationship."
On Sunday, Swaraj admitted that she had helped Modi, a fugitive from Indian law, get his travel documents from the U.K. government on "humanitarian" grounds so that he could give consent for his wife's surgery for cancer in Portugal on August 4, 2016. "My wife was very sick. I made the phone call to Sushma ji," Modi said.
The document facilitated Modi's travel till 2016. Further, laws in Portugal do not require consent for adults undergoing surgery.
On Tuesday, a document sent to the media by Mehmood Abdi, Modi's lawyer, revealed that Raje backed his immigration application in 2011 when she was the leader of opposition in the Rajasthan Assembly.
While the document was not signed by Raje, Modi told Sardesai that she had written statement backing his application, and she "agreed" to be a witness, but the BJP leader did not depose she had become chief minister when the case went to trial. He also said that Raje had accompanied his wife to Portugal for her cancer treatment in 2012 and 2013.
On Tuesday evening, Raje told ANI that she was not aware of such a document. " "I don’t know what documents you people are talking about," she said.
Modi explained that they chose the Champalimaud Center in Lisbon because it offers "revolutionary" treatment for liver cancer and other doctors had given up on his wife's recovery. "He took out the cancer," Modi said, explaining why he was partying three days later in Ibiza.
Modi also accused the UPA government of having a "political vendetta" against him and colluding with the British authorities to prevent him from getting a residency in the U.K.
Modi also denied that he was a fugitive from the law. "Nobody has ever said I'm a fugitive except the media," he said.
When Sardesai pointed to the beautiful location, and said that Modi was "living life king size" despite all the uproar in India, Modi agreed. He also said that it was the tagline of 'Four Square' cigarettes which was his company.
On Wednesday (in India), Modi also shared of a photo of his location in Montenegro.
In a series of tweets on tweets, he challenged the Indian media to "bring it on."
Lastly before I board another flight to another beautiful destination. This is war. So bring it on. I choose to lose a battle to win a war.— Lalit Kumar Modi (@LalitKModi) June 15, 2015
In war there are no winners I know. But I can assure u I will still be standing. The games have just begun. Switch on TV. Game on 💣🙏— Lalit Kumar Modi (@LalitKModi) June 15, 2015