In Lalit Modi's Case, Sushma Swaraj Acted in Good Faith, Says Arun Jaitley

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Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj addressing a press conference on Tuesday


New Delhi:  Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, facing opposition attacks for helping controversial former Indian Premier League boss Lalit Modi obtain British travel papers, was today backed by her senior cabinet colleague Arun Jaitley.

The Finance Minister said the allegations against Ms Swaraj were baseless.

"Sushma ji acted in good faith. The entire party and government are united and behind her," Mr Jaitley said, responding to questions during a press conference with Home Minister Rajnath Singh this afternoon. Sources say Sushma Swaraj met the two ministers for an hour before the press meet.

Mr Jaitley deflected a question on a tweet by party leader Kirti Azad, that the attack on Sushma Swaraj was the result of an internal BJP war.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not yet responded to the controversy, but BJP sources have told NDTV that he will back Sushma Swaraj.

Sushma Swaraj has been facing calls for her resignation for intervening on Lalit Modi's behalf and asking British officials to examine his request for travel abroad when his passport was being held by Indian authorities.

Ms Swaraj has asserted that she helped Lalit Modi on "humanitarian grounds" so that he could be with his wife during her cancer surgery in Portugal in August last year.  The Congress today mocked the minister's reason, calling it a "tearjerker."

Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma said: "Lalit Modi reached Portugal on August 4. From August 8, he and his wife were holidaying in Ibiza."

He added that it was "clear from day 1 that not just Sushma Swaraj, at the highest level the government wanted to help Lalit Modi. It wasn't their duty to get him back to India. They are protecting and helping this person."


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