New Delhi: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj once again on Thursday pleaded innocence in the Lalit Modi controversy and reiterated in the Lok Sabha that she had never recommended to the British government that travel documents be granted to the former IPL chief.
Sushma has been accused of helping the former boss of cash-rich Indian Premier League (IPL) obtain travel documents from the UK to travel to Portugal in 2014, to visit his cancer-stricken wife.
Modi has been living in the UK since 2010 when he fled India after cases were registered against him for alleged money laundering.
Speaking in the Lower House, Sushma said that injustice is being done to her as she is not getting a chance to clarify and put forth her opinion.
The minister was, however, able to speak today without being shouted down as the opposition benches were empty due to the ongoing protest by opposition parties over suspension of 25 Congress MPs from the Lok Sabha.
“Stars are probably not in my favour. That is why those who have always supported me are now demanding my resignation. But, stars will surely turn in my favour again,” she said, making a case for her.
Sushma said she had never recommended or requested the British government to grant Lalit Modi travel documents.
“Words in such communication are important. If I had recommended the UK government to grant travel documents to Lalit Modi, then I would have written that clearly,” the minister told the House.
“I had only conveyed to the UK government that if they decide to grant travel documents to Lalit Modi, that would not affect the India-Britain ties,” the senior BJP leader said.
“Did I help Lalit Modi flee India? No! Did I recommend travel documents for Lalit Modi? No!” Sushma said categorically.
“Lalit Modi's wife has been suffering from cancer for the past 17 years. She was receiving treatment at a research centre in Portugal. She has been diagnosed with cancer for the 10th time. Doctors said this time her cancer is life-threatening,” Sushma informed the House.
“The medical institution said Ms Modi's condition is life-threatening and that her husband must be present during treatment. That's the background of 'humanitarian grounds' on which I helped Lalit Modi,” she clarified.
“I had no role either in taking the decision or in recommending it to the British authorities,” the minister again stated.
Getting emotional, Sushma asked, “If Sonia Gandhi was in my place, what would she have done? Let Modi's wife die?”
Turning to Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, she again asked, “If you were in my place, what would you have done? Let her (Lalit Modi's wife) die?”
“Help has been extended to that lady who is the citizen of India, who was not involved in the crime (IPL money laundering). If helping a lady like this is a crime, then yes, I have committed a crime,” the minister stated.