Lalit opens flood gates

A fresh controversy involving External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in connection with her links to Lalit Modi erupted on Wednesday after it emerged that the former IPL chief offered her husband a position on the board of one of his family-run firms even as Lalit Modi dragged Varun Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi into the controversy.

The new controversy gave more ammunition for the Congress to target the Narendra Modi government in the escalating Lalit Modi row. Sushma’s husband Swaraj Kaushal was offered the position of director to alternate for the controversial former IPL chief on the board of Indofil Industries.

Kaushal acknowledged that he had been offered a position on the Indofil board. The offer was made to Kaushal in April this year months after Sushma Swaraj helped Lalit Modi get urgent travel documents in the UK, according to TV channels. Lalit, who is being probed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for alleged money laundering, withdrew the offer before it could be considered by the Board. He is currently based in the UK.

K K Modi, Lalit’s father and CMD of Indofil, said the proposal was withdrawn before it could be brought for consideration by the board. Stating that he is a lawyer for Lalit Modi for over 20 years, Kaushal said he was offered to be alternate director on Indofil board but he did not give his consent and that the request was withdrawn.

“Sushma Swaraj must tell the people of the country how many times she has met Lalit Modi or if any of her family members had been in touch with the fugitive,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala told reporters. “I think it’s time for the Foreign Minister to sing the national anthem and step down,” said another Congress leader Tom Vadakkan.

BJP leader Nalin Kohli said the Congress Party has run out of ideas and is desperately “clutching at straws”. Levelling fresh allegations, Lalit Modi on Wednesday sought to drag Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and BJP leader Varun Gandhi in the escalating row involving the controversial former IPL chief.

Modi alleged that Varun had met him at his house in London and offered a deal to “settle” matters with Sonia Gandhi, a charge dubbed by the BJP MP as “baseless” and “nonsense”. “Mr @varungandhi80 came to see me at my house a few years ago and said he can settle everything in @INCIndia with his aunt(Sonia). He wanted me to meet her sister from Italy.

I heard him next I heard from our common friend who introduced us that Auntie wants 60 million dollars. Told them whaaaat are u nuts go HKG a kite. Can he deny that. I hope he does,” Modi alleged in a series of tweets. Vehemently denying the charge, Varun said, “This is absolutely baseless and it is beneath my dignity to respond to this nonsense.”

The BJP also came to Varun’s defence, saying he is in a different party than Sonia Gandhi. In another set of tweets, “Please mr @varungandhi80 – let the world know what you told about what auntie wants – witness is our good friend world renowned astrologer.

“Please clarify @varungandhi80 did u or did u not come to my house in london. Whilst staying at the Ritz hotel in lon(don) a few years ago – the auntie he refers to is #soniagandhi. The sister is #soniagandhi sister – just for clarity.” BJP national secretary Shrikant Sharma questioned Sonia Gandhi on the charges of money demands made to settle matters for him and said, “Sonia Gandhi should answer on the allegations made by Modi.”