Vasundhara admits to helping Lalit Modi but BJP backs her
Jaipur/New Delhi, June 25 (IANS) Pressure continued to mount for her resignation over help to former IPL chief Lalit Modi, but the BJP leadership has decided to back Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhra Raje for now, even after she reportedly conveyed to party leaders that she had testified on his immigration application document.
Raje met some party legislators on Thursday, while her office accused some TV channels of “constantly running” baseless and false news on her alleged links with Lalit Modi even as the Congress, which had shown a document about Raje testifying in favour of Lalit Modi’s British immigration application in 2011, continued to keep up pressure on Thursday for her resignation.
Bharatiya Janata Party sources said that Saudan Singh, who is organisational incharge of Rajasthan, and general secretary Arun Singh met Raje in Jaipur on Wednesday following Congress showing the purported document.
According to the sources, the chief minister told the two leaders that document contained her signatures. She is also learnt to have told the two leaders that she had testified in her personal capacity when she was the leader of the opposition in the Rajasthan assembly.
Raje is also learnt to have conveyed that she was willing to resign if other leaders facing accusations were willing to do so.
What has seriously embarrassed the BJP is her reported statement that she did not want her support to Lalit Modi to be made known to Indian authorities.
Party sources said Raje, who is scheduled to come to Delhi on June 27 for a meeting of Niti Aayog, had not been asked to resign so far. They said she had also dug in her heels and signalled that she would not resign on her own, and signalled she had support of the vast majority of BJP legislators in the state as well as MPs.
“While the leadership is concerned about image of the party being hit due to opposition’s pressure, it has to ensure that there are no divisions,” a party functionary told IANS.
Another functionary said the BJP leadership has decided to back the chief minister for now.
“Vasundharaji is not going to be asked to resign under any kind of pressure – be it from Congress or from media,” he said.
The RSS has also cautioned the BJP leadership against falling into any “media trial trap”, informed sources told IANS.
According to them, the RSS is of the view that if Raje is asked to resign, the pressure will mount on the BJP to take a call over External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who is too accused of helping Modi in getting British travel documents for going to Portugal in 2014 after his Indian passport was revoked.
Raje on Thursday met her cabinet colleagues and party legislators and functionaries in Jaipur to gauge her support, state BJP sources said. More BJP leaders, including legislators, were expected to meet her on Thursday and Friday, the sources added.
“It seems the meeting with MLAs and others is a pressure tactic. She wants to tell the BJP leaders that she enjoys the support of the BJP state unit,” a BJP leader told IANS.
State Health Minister Rajendra Rathore, who is a known supporter, ruled out her resignation. “The BJP is fully behind the chief minister. There is no question of her resigning,” he said here.
The Congress has however taken an aggressive stand against Raje and threatened to launch an agitation if she did not resign, while the Communist Party of India-Marxist and the Aam Aadmi Party have also demanded her immediate resignation.