news Wednesday, July 01, 2015 - 05:30
  Ever since the news of the Lalit Modi scandal broke, there has been nothing short of a frenzy surrounding it in the Indian media.  What began as breaking news about External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj allegedly misusing her position to help the former IPL chief Lalit Modi visit Portugal, has snowballed into a controversy so big that it has been dubbed "LalitGate".  Amidst the media and political storm has been a slug-fest of sorts - with Lalit Modi taking on influential names and the opposition vying for the resignation of Sushma Swaraj and Vasundhara Raje. Every day there is a new angle, a new face, a new piece of information linked to the scam which emerges, so much so that it has become almost difficult to keep track of who plays what role in the sequence of events.  Here is a quick guide: 1. Varun Gandhi Modi drags Varun Gandhi into the picture: Lalit Modi has said BJP MP Varun Gandhi met him in London "a few years ago" and offered to "settle everything" with Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Varun Gandhi has denied this.   1/3 Mr @varungandhi80 came to see me at my house a few years ago and said he can settle everything in @INCIndia with — Lalit Kumar Modi (@LalitKModi) June 30, 2015   But Lalit Modi has been presistent: "Please clarify @varungandhi80 did u or did u not come to my house in London. Whilst staying at the Ritz hotel in London a few years ago," said another of his tweets. 2. Vasundhara Raje and the Dholpur Palace:  The Congress has claimed that there was a "criminal nexus" between Vasundhara Raje and Lalit Modi, and stepped up pressure by producing fresh documents in support of its claim that the Dholpur Palace was a state-owned property.  The Congress has alleged that a firm owned by Raje's son Dushyant, in which both she and Lalit Modi have shares, has illegally taken possession of the Dholpur Palace.      "Niyant Private Limited, owned by Raje, her son Dushyant Singh, daughter-in-law Niharaika Singh and Lalit Modi, has taken possession of a Rajasthan government's property, converted it into a private high-end luxury hotel and invested over Rs.100 crore," Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said here in a press conference. The BJP once again refuted the charge as "baseless". 3. Lalit Modi had reportedly asked Sushma Swaraj's husband Swaraj Kaushal "to serve as his back-up on the board of one of his companies, Indofil", states a report by NDTV.  In an email accessed by NDTV, Modi in April had asked Swaraj Kaushal to be the Alternate Director, which would mean that the latter could attend board meetings on Modi's behalf. Kaushal, who was Modi's lawyers for around two decades, had however turned down the offer.  The Congress pointed out that the fact that an offer was made to Kaushal showed the inappropriate proximity between Modi and the External Affairs minister's family, add reports. 4. The tobacco connection: Congress leader Jairam Ramesh has reportedly said that he wondered whether the Vasundhara Raje government slashed the taxes on tobacco products in Rajasthan to help the Modi owned tobacco manufacturing company.  5. With his hands all over the political scenario, Lalit Modi returned to his favourite home ground – cricket alleging that three well-known cricketers had been paid large amounts of bribe from a bookie who was also a builder. Though the ICC acknowledged receiving Modi’s confidential e-mail, the BCCI gave the three cricketers a “clean chit”. 6. Modi dragged ICC chairman N Srinivasan’s name into the slugfest in an interview with a TV channel by calling out to the government to make the Mudgal report, an investigation on the IPL scam public. 7. The Congress has also dismissed reports that it offered to ensure smooth passage of Goods and Services Tax Bill in Parliament if the government removed External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje. 8. Meanwhile, an RTI query has found that the Rajasthan government has no record about Vasundhara Raje’s foreign tours between February 2009 and February 2013 when she was the leader of Opposition in the state Assembly. This is also the time she travelled to London to visit the Modis. With accusations and counter-accusations flying back and forth, it remains to be seen what new information each day brings.  With inputs from IANS