Chennai: Rejecting allegations of vendetta levelled against him and the UPA, former Finance Minister P Chidambaram today demanded that the government should ensure that Lalit Modi returns to India to face a probe by the Enforcement Directorate on various charges, including money laundering.
Addressing a press conference, he said External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s action in helping the tainted former IPL boss get travel documents from the UK was in violation of rules and a case of favouritism shown to someone she knew.
He also demanded to know who had decided not to appeal against the Delhi High Court decision to restore the passport of Modi last year as, normally, reversing a decision requires a hearing in a higher court.
“When a division bench of the high court sets aside cancellation of Lalit Modi’s passport, who took the decision to not file an appeal in the Supreme Court?” he asked, while also demanding that the government release its notes.
The Congress leader also wanted the government to release the letters exchanged between him as Finance Minister and the Chancellor of Exchequer George Osborne in which he had urged to send Modi back to India since he was facing criminal charges in the country.
He said that after the reply to his first letter, he had written a second letter couched in stronger words to Osborne that Modi was facing investigations in India, that his passport has been revoked, that he had no right to live in the UK and should be sent back to India.
On the charge of vendetta he said Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s reply yesterday that notices in 15 of the 16 cases against Modi still stood spoke for itself.
Chidambaram also raised the question of if Swaraj wanted to help Modi on a humanitarian basis, as is being claimed, why she didn’t write to the Indian High Commission and ask for travel documents to be issued to him instead of recommending UK travel documents.
“Why did Swaraj help him get a long term visa or a residency of Britain when he was facing serious criminal charges in India?” he asked.
Asked about the Prime Minister’s silence, he referred to Jaitley’s reply yesterday that the whole government shared collective responsibility for decisions taken by a minister, and said, “I assume that the Prime Minister takes responsibility.”
Replying to other questions, Chidambaram said on the basis of facts disclosed so far it was an abuse of authority and violation of rules.
To a question about the defence by BJP of Swaraj after RSS came out in her support, he said, “It shows who is the master.”
To a BJP charge that Congress has raked up the issue because there are woman leaders, he said it was rubbish and told journalists not to lend dignity to such allegations by raising them.