New Delhi (IANS) Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday ruled out the resignation of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj over the Lalit Modi issue and hit out at Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, saying he was an expert without knowledge.
In a strong counter-attack on the Congress, Jaitley said former IPL chief Lalit Modi was largely being probed by the UPA under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), which had far softer provisions compared to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
Without naming Lalit Modi, Jaitley said the Enforcement Directorate served him notice over the money spent on the Indian Premier League held in 2009 in South Africa as financial transactions took place without permission of the Reserve Bank of India.
He said Lalit Modi did not appear before the ED for investigations and a light-blue lookout notice was issued against him.
Jaitley said an FIR was registered against Lalit Modi under the PMLA in 2012 but the case did not take off and the former IPL chief became liable for arrest only after concrete steps were taken by the BJP-led government.
“He became liable for arrest for the first time on August 5, 2015,” Jaitley said.
He said Sushma Swaraj had spoken to the British government at a time when Lalit Modi was not facing a criminal case or had arrest warrants pending but only FEMA proceedings.
He said the erstwhile UPA government sought his “deportation” which was not possible under British law as he faced no criminal case.
Jaitley also criticised Rahul Gandhi over his jibes at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sushma Swaraj.
“The problem with Rahul Gandhi is that he is an expert without knowledge,” Jaitley said.
Referring to Rahul Gandhi’s allegations about Sushma Swaraj’s family receiving money from Lalit Modi for their legal services, Jaitley said some people and their children had to earn a living unlike others.
“For generations, a family that has dominated the politics of this country have not worked for a living. They have learnt the art of living comfortably without working,” Jaitely said, adding that “some of us have not learnt that art”.
Referring to the Congress demand for making public the correspondence of former finance minister P. Chidambaram and the British government concerning Lalit Modi, he said information should not be released which can help the accused in his defence.
“You were taking wrong steps, creating a false cloud. You were taking steps you could never succeed,” Jaitley said.
Jaitley accused the Congress of making a “mountain out of a molehill”.
“The government entirely rejects the allegations. The question of Sushma ji’s resignation does not arise… My entire sympathy is with Sushma ji. It (demand for her resignation) was only a pretext,” he said.
Jaitley accused the Congress of having run “a failed government, a corrupt government”.
“You want to sabotage the Indian growth story, go back on the Goods and Services Tax bill.”