Calls for a Chief Minister’s Resignation in Indian Scandal

DoThe Best
By DoThe Best June 25, 2015 10:03

Calls for a Chief Minister’s Resignation in Indian Scandal

The Indian National Congress party on Wednesday called for the resignation of one of the top regional leaders of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s governing party, the latest development in the public scandal that has engulfed the government.

The Congress party released a witness statement in support of a disgraced cricket magnate that it said had been signed by Vasundhara Raje, the chief minister of Rajasthan state.

“The prime minister has said so many things about transparency, accountability, he has only one option,” said Jairam Ramesh, a Congress leader, in a televised news conference Wednesday evening. He accused Raje of breaking four laws, including the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The scandal has been simmering for more than a week, beginning when India’s foreign minister, Sushma Swaraj, came under scrutiny for her involvement with the cricket mogul, Lalit Modi, who is no relation to the prime minister.

Lalit Modi built the Indian Premier League into a roaring success, but was accused in 2010 by cricket authorities of financial improprieties. Indian authorities investigating the league raided his office. Modi moved to London in 2010, and the next year the authorities revoked his passport, leaving him unable to travel outside Britain.

The statement said to have been signed by Raje, dated Aug. 18, 2011, contains an expression of support for an immigration application for Modi which he has said was filed with the British government, under the condition that the support not be made known to Indian authorities.

Swaraj is accused of intervening with the British authorities in 2014 to grant Lalit Modi dispensation to travel to Portugal, where his wife was to undergo surgery.

On June 13, Swaraj wrote on Twitter that she had merely conveyed to the British government that Modi’s travel outside Britain would not spoil bilateral relations.

Senior ministers have defended both Swaraj and Raje in recent days, with a spokesman for the governing Bharatiya Janata Party saying Wednesday that the authenticity of the documents had yet to be proved.

“There are a bunch of papers, but that bunch of papers do not mean that there’s any sort of impropriety,” the spokesman said to NDTV. “The authenticity of the document can only be vouched by her.”

On Wednesday before the Congress announcement, the Indian home minister, Rajnath Singh, denied that either leader would have to resign, according to the Press Trust of India.

In the witness statement, Raje, who was then a state assembly member and leader of the state’s opposition, said that Modi had supported her 2008 election campaign and that he was “literally hounded out of Rajasthan cricket by pro-Congress party figures,” part of what she called a “smear campaign against Lalit and, by association, me.”

Raje did not immediately respond to the Congress announcement and the disclosure of the statement. But Wednesday night, the authenticity of the document appeared to be accepted by many analysts, and calls for her resignation were echoed beyond just her political adversaries.

DoThe Best
By DoThe Best June 25, 2015 10:03
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