NEW DELHI -- Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje's shaky political standing was hit by aftershocks Wednesday evening as Times Now news channel revealed a document bearing her signature, supporting Lalit Modi's immigration plea with UK authorities in 2011.
The channel had reported earlier that she had supported the immigration plea of Modi, a fugitive from Indian law enforcement agencies. BJP had dismissed the allegation then, saying there was no signature on the documents that had emerged.
Subsequently, senior BJP leader Nitin Gadkari had issued a "clean chit"--a time-honoured tradition of Indian politics where tainted politicians unilaterally exonerate their tainted colleagues.
Earlier today, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said there was no question of either Raje or external affairs Sushma Swaraj, also embroiled in the controversy, quitting.
Congress leader Jairam Ramesh demanded Raje's immediate resignation in a presser called shortly after the Times Now news break.
In the letter to U.K. government, seen by HuffPost, Raje said that Congress Party had carried out a "smear campaign" against Lalit Modi, who is being investigated by Indian agencies for money laundering, and she described the legal action against him as "ridiculous criminal cases."
Last week, Raje told the media that she did not know about the damning document, which said her support should "strictly" be kept hidden from Indian authorities.
In an interview with India Today, Lalit Modi said that Raje 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 cancer treatment in 2012 and 2013.
On Wednesday night, Rajasthan's BJP chief Ashok Parnami defended Raje and accused the Congress Party of attempting to "malign" her image.
We cannot comment until the context in which signatures (V Raje's) were given is clear: Ashok Parnami pic.twitter.com/35bu2eAEPl— ANI (@ANI_news) June 24, 2015
She (V Raje) just said,she doesn't know what contents that letter contains which is being discussed in media: Ashok Parnami, R'than BJP Pres— ANI (@ANI_news) June 24, 2015
Rajasthan's Health Minister Rajendra Rathore ruled out Raje's resignation.
We completely rule out Vasundhara Raje ji's resignation demand,the entire party stands with her: Rajendra Rathore, Rajasthan Health Minister— ANI (@ANI_news) June 24, 2015