New Delhi, July 22 (ANI): External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, facing heat over allegedly favouring Lalit Modi, a business and sports tycoon living in London, who faces allegations of tax evasion, courted fresh trouble on Wednesday by tweeting that a senior leader of the opposition Congress party had approached her for a diplomatic passport for an accused in the multi-billion dollar coal scam.
Swaraj did not name the Congress leader, but said the passport was sought for Santosh Bagrodia, who is an accused in connection with the allocation of a coal block. Bagrodia, who faces charges of criminal conspiracy and cheating, has been summoned by a special court on August 18.
In her tweets on Wednesday, Swaraj said she will reveal the name of the Congress leader in Parliament.
“A senior Congress leader was pressing me hard to give diplomatic passport to the Coal Scam accused Santosh Bagrodia. I will disclose name of the leader on the floor of the House,” tweeted Swaraj.
The opposition Congress party demanded that she disclose the name of the leader.
“Well, she should reveal it quickly and why on the floor of the house, she should do it in public. Why is she hiding behind parliamentary privilege? Is she scared that somebody would drag her to court for defamation? And in any case Santosh Bagrodia is not a fugitive from the law. He is going through the judicial processes right here in India and every accused is innocent until proven guilty,” said Congress leader Manish Tewari.
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) accused the Congress of diverting the attention of people and instead asked it to hold debate in parliament on pressing issues.
“Congress does not have potential and they want to do politics on the basis of lies. They have been exposed badly and we challenge Congress to hold discussions in the parliament,” said Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs.
Parliament was rocked today as the opposition lawmakers have been insisting on resignation of leaders tainted by corruption allegations, deepening an impasse that has stalled the government’s reform agenda.
Modi is under pressure from the opposition to fire his foreign minister and a state leader amid claims they gave favours to a sports tycoon living in London who faces allegations of tax evasion.
Separately, the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh governed by Modi’s party is on the defensive over the deaths of witnesses involved in a massive fraud in entrance exams for college and government jobs. (ANI)