Monday, June 15, 2015

You too, Sushma Swaraj?

Et tu, Sushmaji? It is with a heavy heart that I write to you on this issue of you facilitating Lalit Modi’s travel documents in the UK through Keith Vaz.

I always felt that you stood out in politics – both at the party level and in parliament. And once in the Modi cabinet I believed that you stood out not just because of the quiet dignity that you brought to the office but also because unlike your motor mouth counterpart – Smriti Irani – you actually got along with people from all sides of the spectrum and put your head down and got things done in the ministry.

I have seen you endure your share of sexist remarks, but you took them all in your stride to make an impact in parliament and now in the cabinet.

That you and the Modiji & Amit Shah duo have not shared the best of relations was an open secret. Truth be told I kind of admired you when you opposed Modiji’s appointment as Chairman of the BJP’s campaign committee. I remember you actually gave a dissent note when the parliamentary board overruled objections to declare him the PM candidate. You had also argued that Amitbhai Shah should be suspended from the party after the CBI arrested him for his alleged complicity in the ‘fake encounters’. These things endeared you to me because it seemed that here was a politician who stood up for something that she believed in.

These I obviously admired in you and also the fact that like most of the members of the BJP you did not really have any scams linked to your name.

Well, not entirely. There is a not too savoury incident in your political life too. I allude to the Bellary brothers. They really came into prominence when you decided to fight the bye-elections in Bellary, Karnataka in 1999 and they managed to create a mining empire that is rumoured to have controlled the Karnataka government no less. The talk at that time was that they had your protection. Later on you did distance yourself from them but I think that was a bit too late. The damage to your reputation had been done. However, I did appreciate you sidelining them. I had hoped at that time that it was a question of your morals coming to the fore albeit belatedly rather than the possibility that they had exhausted their usefulness.   

And now this?

You admit that you facilitated the UK authorities issuing travel documents to Lalit Modi to head to Portugal because his wife was unwell. Did you bother to check if he really needed to sign any consent document?  His wife was clearly conscious at that time and it was not as if she was not able to sign any consent papers herself. Also, it appears written consent might not be required under Portuguese law. 

You were the External Affairs Minister at that time too. Did you not feel the need to get the Foreign Ministry (or you yourself) to do a bit of background check on the same? All it needed was a Google search.

Or did you not do it because the Lalit Modi connect that you have is more than just humanitarian in nature?

Do you not understand that Bansuri, your daughter, appearing for Lalit Modi in the Dehi High Court when Lalit Modi challenged the revocation of his passport means that you have  conflict of interest when you talk about his getting travel documents from another country?

You got Keith Vaz to put pressure on UK’s top immigration official to grant British travel papers to Lalit Modi, who then got the same in less than 24 hours.

Do you not get ‘Conflict of Interest’? Your daughter appears in a particular case for a ‘fugitive’ of the Indian government and you blithely work toward his getting his travel papers organized by another country?

If the issue of conflict of interest is not bad enough it appears as if there could actually be a quid pro quo to this all. Did you really get Lalit Modi to ensure that your husband’s nephew got into the Law school at Sussex University? If you did then this case just got a bit murkier.

Think about it Sushmaji, it does not look pretty and for god’s sake stay away from Twitter. Better people than you have gotten screwed because of intemperate and badly thought through statements on it. 

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