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Fresh controversy: Lalit Modi offers board position to Sushma’s husband

<p>New Delhi: Former IPL chief Lalit Modi kicks up a fresh controversy involving External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, as he had offered the husband of Swaraj a position on the board of one of his family-run firms.

The new controversy gave more ammunition for the Congress to target the Narendra Modi government in the escalating Lalit Modi row as the opposition party raised questions of conflict of interest and again demanded Sushma Swaraj’s resignation.

Sushma’s husband Swaraj Kaushal was offered the position of director to alternate for the controversial former IPL chief on the board of Indofil Industries, an integrated chemical company.

The offer was made to Kaushal in April this year, months after Sushma Swaraj helped Lalit Modi get urgent travel documents in the UK.

Lalit, who is being probed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for alleged money laundering, later withdrew the offer before it could be considered by the Board. He is currently based in the UK. KK Modi, Lalit’s father and CMD of Indofil, said the proposal was withdrawn before it could be brought for consideration by the board.

“So the board never considered that request. That’s the current situation," he said.

“Lalit didn’t give him (Swaraj Kaushal) power but a proposal that Kaushal be appointed as alternate director of company,” Modi said, adding “(when) he’s not on the board so where is the conflict of interest.

“No director can be appointed without following the rules and regulations which are laid out by law,” Modi said. Kaushal acknowledged that he had been offered a position on the Indofil board.

Stating that he is a lawyer for Lalit Modi for over 20 years, Kaushal said he was offered to be alternate director on Indofil board but he did not give his consent and that the request was withdrawn.

Earlier, the Congress had asked Sushma Swaraj to come clean on the Lalit Modi issue and asked the prime minister to break his "deafening silence" on the matter.

“Sushma Swaraj must tell the people of the country how many times she has met Lalit Modi or if any of her family members had been in touch with the fugitive,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala told reporters. Demanding sacking of Swaraj, he reminded the prime minister that the Congress had adhered to the "highest standards of propriety" by asking for resignation of Madhavsinh Solanki and Natwar Singh when allegations were made against them while they were External Affairs Minister. (With agency inputs)