Mumbai, Maharashtra: Former union minister Sharad Pawar's party, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has come out in support of beleaguered former IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi. This comes at a time when the BJP continues to back Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje over her alleged links with Mr Modi.
The NCP, which was a coalition partner in the previous UPA government, mirrored the BJP's stand by stating Mr Modi was no absconder. "So far Lalit Modi has not been found guilty of even the smallest offence... So, he could not have been said to be a defaulter or an absconder," senior party leader and advocate Majeed Memon told NDTV.
Moreover, the NCP took the same stand as Ms Raje who had explained in her 'secret' witness statement supporting Mr Modi's immigration application in the UK that he was a victim of politics. But the regional party has reservations over Ms Raje wanting to keep the document a secret.
"Modi must have asked his well-wishers, supporters, who knew him from his childhood, who knew him from his roots to back him... There is nothing wrong in that at all. But in Vasundhara's case because she wrote she wanted it to be a secret, it is objectionable," Mr Memon said.
The bonhomie also reflects Mr Modi's close links with NCP leaders Sharad Pawar and Praful Patel. Earlier, Mr Pawar had told NDTV that he met Mr Modi a month ago in London and advised him to return to India, even offering to help him get a fair trial, while adding that there indeed were threats to Modi's life.
Some of this, as claimed by Mr Modi, finds mention even in Modi's immigration application where he says, "I have had conversations with Praful Patel and Sharad Pawar, both of whom told me that if I returned to India I would immediately be arrested and detained upon my arrival."
This support from NCP for the former IPL Commissioner has blunted the Congress' attack on BJP leaders' close association with him, and had labelled the Mr Modi an "absconder" even though no court had declared him one.