NEW DELHI -- Laying to rest over a week of intense speculation and debate, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said today that neither External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj nor Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje would be asked to resign by the NDA government over the Lalit Modi scandal.
Both senior BJP leaders have been accused of helping the former IPL commissioner, a fugitive, who is being investigated by Indian agencies for money laundering, secure travel documents in the U.K. in 2014.
Singh ruled out their resignations on Wednesday. "There will be no resignation of ministers," he said. "We are the NDA, not the UPA."
Home Minister Rajnath Singh rules out resignation of any Union Minister including Sushma Swaraj who is under attack in the Lalit Modi row.— Press Trust of India (@PTI_News) June 24, 2015
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah questioned what Singh meant by his remarks.
So UPA was wrong to get Ministers to resign? What exactly is the Home Minister saying here? https://t.co/eJA3rUR1wz— Omar Abdullah (@abdullah_omar) June 24, 2015
The NDA government's decision disregards a rising tide of criticism by political opponents, especially the Congress Party, which has also questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi's role in the 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, last week. "What is the relationship between Narendra Modi, Amit Shah (BJP chief) and fugitive Lalit Modi."
Swaraj has said that she had helped Lalit Modi on "humanitarian" grounds so that he could give consent for his wife's cancer treatment at a facility in Lisbon in August 2014. But the travel document was issued till 2016, and laws in Portugal do not require consent for adults.
Lalit Modi said that Swaraj's husband and daughter offer him free legal services. The former IPL commissioner also picked up the hotel tabs for Swaraj's husband and Raje at the Four Seasons in Mumbai in 2010.
Making the plot even murkier is the financial link between Raje's son, Dushyant Singh, and Lalit Modi, who made a Rs.11.63 crore investment in his firm Niyant Heritage Hotels Pvt Ltd. in April 2008. The shares of the company were priced at Rs. 10 in 2005, but the IPL commissioner paid around Rs. 7.83 crore to 815 shares at a staggering premium of Rs. 96,180.
The money invested in their firm was part of Rs. 21 crore that Lalit Modi's Anand Heritage Hotels Pvt Ltd. received from an unknown entity Wilton Investment Ltd based in Mauritius, which is being probed by the Enforcement Directorate.