The damage done to the BJP image by Lalit Modi’s earlier links with two powerful women of the party and the subsequent revelations made by one of his lawyers has been considerable. Exterl Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj complicated matters by overreaching herself in her attempt to secure British travel papers for Lalit Modi bypassing all procedural protocol and norms. In other words, what should have gone as written requests through files and the appropriate officers of the two governments was short-circuited by requests made to the British government directly through the British High Commissioner in New Delhi. This irregularity has been compounded by requests made to Lalit Modi for the education of Sushma Swaraj’s nephew in Britain and the fact that Sushma Swaraj’s daughter Baansuri was one of the lawyers of Lalit Modi. What has also been revealed now is the close nexus between Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and Lalit Modi over the years. However, what has probably done the greatest damage to her image is the publication of a document where Vasundhara Raje had made the request that the assistance extended to Lalit Modi should not be made known to the government of India. Details are now also available about how Lalit Modi had helped Vasundhara Raje’s son with crores of rupees in black money. In fact, this would probably account for the kind of difference there is in the BJP’s attitude to Sushma Swaraj and Vasundhara Raje. While there is full support from the party for Sushma Swaraj, Vasundhara Raje has been left to fend for herself. Nevertheless, there are reasons to believe that Prime Minister rendra Modi is unlikely to spare either of them. It is quite possible that both the women might be asked to step down.
The worst part of the murky episode is that two very prominent figures of Indian politics should have had any kind of nexus at all with someone as totally discredited as Lalit Modi. Apart from other things, he was also a crimil involved in foreign exchange offences. Even those who had persol reasons for having helped him (either on “humanitarian grounds” or due to other equations) must have realized by now how ruthless he can be in exposing even his benefactors.
It is possible that Prime Minister rendra Modi will eventually get down to the imperative of having to get Sushma Swaraj and Vasundhara Raje to step down, if not for any other reason, at least because of their nexus with someone whose crimil activities are now fairly well established through the number of court cases against him. Having done this, his next task will be to impress upon the British government that requests made on behalf of crimil elements that have to bypass normal diplomatic norms and protocol do not represent the wishes of the Indian government even if such irregularities are committed by the Exterl Affairs Minister herself. Having attended to this part of the business, it should be the duty of the Exterl Affairs Ministry and the Home Ministry to secure the deportation of Lalit Modi to India for his trial in this country.
What has taken the Lalit Modi scam to an unexpected and unnecessarily sensitive level is L.K. Advani’s remark: “If the Emergency could happen with so many of us being there (who were opposed to it), I don’t totally rule it out in the future. I don’t think the last word on this has been said.” It is possible that Advani’s general remarks may not have had anything to do with the Lalit Modi scam. However, the choice of the time has been rather unfortute for the BJP. Whether Advani had the Lalit Modi scam in mind or not, his words are likely to provide grist to the Opposition mill and to make things slightly stickier for his own party at a time of crisis. One would have expected the former Deputy Prime Minister of India to have exercised better restraint at a time like this, since many people are likely to link it with the present crisis of the party.