NEW DELHI -- The Lalit Modi scandal that has ensnared two senior BJP leaders thus far is refusing to die down with opposition parties intensifying street protests in the capital and the Congress levelling new charges against Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje Scindia.
The Congress has released a fresh set of documents allegedly showing that a company jointly owned by Lalit Modi and Raje's family members forcibly took over a heritage property owned by the Rajasthan government in Jaipur.
After L.K. Advani had hinted that the politicians facing accusations should resign, now occasional BJP fellow traveller and RSS ideologue K.N. Govindacharya has said that Swaraj and Raje should quit on moral grounds. "They should do it like Advani had done it, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Sharad Yadav. There are many such examples and it will benefit the party," he told Times Now.
"It seems they have given some help. They had good relations like share issues or Dushyant Singh issue are concerned. From common man's perception, they are guilty. Even if they resign on moral ground, if they were proved not guilty they can come back," he said.
So far, BJP has ruled out resignations for Swaraj and Raje.
Swaraj, who helped the cricket tycoon secure travel documents from the UK claims that she intervened on "humanitarian" grounds so that he could attend his wife's cancer surgery in Portugal in August 2014. The document, however, was issued till 2016.
The BJP is also standing behind Raje, who backed Lalit Modi's immigration plea when she was Leader of Opposition in Rajasthan in 2011. She also asked that her support for the former IPL chief be hidden from Indian authorities, and she derided the UPA government before British authorities. The BJP is making the case that Raje acted in personal capacity, and she has not done anything illegal.
Govindacharya, however, said the stain of the controversy will stick even if the BJP leaders try to fight it legally. "If they think to fight it legally then the issue will continue to stick as it happened in the Bofors issue," he said.
When the controversy hit the Modi government, two weeks ago, it was widely reported that the RSS had put pressure on the NDA government not to sack the leaders. But Advani's comments over the weekend was a clear message to the leadership.
"For a politician, to command people's trust is the biggest responsibility. What morality demands that is 'rajdharma' and need to maintain probity in public life," he said. "People vote for us and we have to live up to their trust. In my life, I have always listened to my conscience."
On Monday, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) carried out a protest in Jantar Mantar demanding resignations of Swaraj and Raje as well as Union Minister Smriti Irani, accused of lying about her educational qualifications, and Pankaja Munde, a BJP lawmaker from Maharashtra, who allegedly cleared projects worth Rs206 crore without following due process.
Earlier, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has said that if his party got rid of its former law minister Jitender Singh Tomar because of his alleged fake degrees then Modi should also fire Swaraj and Raje.
AAP is especially agitated over Irani's educational qualifications since the Delhi government was left red-faced over Tomar's case.
Bharatiya Maun Party
Meanwhile, the Congress Party mocked the BJP by calling it the "Bharatiya Maun Party."
Addressing the Prime Minister, Congress leader Tom Vadakkan said, "Your silence is deafening. The people of India are asking questions."
The jibe is especially potent because it was Narendra Modi who coined the term "Maun-mohan" to mock former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's silence over controversies during the UPA government.