Indian opposition demands resignation of foreign minister

Indian opposition demands resignation of foreign minister
Above: Rahul Gandhi

NEW DELHI - India's main opposition party led calls on Monday for the resignation of the foreign minister over allegations she tried to help the former chief of India's richest sports league obtain British travel documents.

Indian media reported on Sunday that Sushma Swaraj had last year asked British authorities to examine a request to provide travel documents to Lalit Modi, at a time when his passport had been revoked by Indian authorities in a graft case.

Swaraj has denied the allegations and said on social media she was helping Lalit, who is based in London, on "humanitarian" grounds as he needed to visit his ailing wife in Portugal.

Lalit was suspended as the head of India's cash-rich Indian Premier League cricket competition in 2010 following allegations of corruption that also ensnared politicians.

Rahul Gandhi, vice president of the opposition Congress party, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi should sack Swaraj for trying to help a private individual accused of wrongdoing.

Congress party members added to pressure on Swaraj by marching in the streets of the capital New Delhi, waving posters and shouting slogans against her.

Swaraj did not answer phone calls to her home. A Foreign Ministry spokesman said he had no comment to make at this stage. Lalit could not immediately be reached for a comment.

Modi, who is not related to Lalit, has not commented on the issue so far, but senior leaders of his Bharatiya Janata Party have publicly backed Swaraj.

Modi stormed to power last year with promises of running a graft-free and transparent government. "It is an act of great impropriety," Congress' national spokesman Sanjay Jha told Reuters. "(Swaraj's) resignation ought to be a fait accompli."

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