After one of the leading English News Channel, Times Now gave a consistent and continuous hysterical coverage to #LalitGate, it not only divided the media and experts, but has also created a huge uproar in the Indian Political scenario.
When the BJP-led NDA government was gloating over the fact that there had been no scam during the first year of the Narendra Modi government, as against the five years of the UPA government in its second stint in office, members of the Congress party got a stick to beat the BJP with the Sushma-Lalit controversial report published in the Sunday Times of London.
The report revealed that senior Labour Party leader Keith Vaz, who is of Indian origin, negotiated with the British government at Sushma Swaraj’s request to secure consent for former IPL commissioner Lalit Modi to go to Lisbon to meet his cancer-stricken wife. But in reality, Lalit Modi was found to use the opportunity for making a world tour instead of going to meet his sick wife and spending whale of a time in a tourist resort.
During 2010 when the Enforcement Directorate, the Income-tax and other economic offences wings of the Indian government were zeroing in on the first IPL commissioner, Lalit Modi had left India virtually as a fugitive and moved to London.
The high-voltage political drama became intense when Times Now exposed the same in Indian media attacking the Union External Affairs Minister, Ms. Sushma Swaraj along with some other top BJP leaders alleging them for extending hefty favors to corruption-tainted cricket boss, Lalit Modi. It alleged that Sushma facilitated travel documents for the fugitive.
Although the NaMo government has tried to defend Ms. Swaraj by saying that she has done nothing illegal as the decision to allow Lalit Modi to go to Portugal was taken by the British government on her request ,but there are serious issues of indecency against her.
It has alleged that as there are pending cases of economic offences against Lalit Modi in Indian courts and decorum demanded that Sushma Swaraj should have referred the matter to her colleague Arun Jaitley, Union Minister of Finance. Instead, Ms Swaraj chose not to keep Jaitley in the loop, She did not even bother to speak to the Indian High Commissioner in Britain or even to the Secretary, External Affairs, which too were acts of impropriety. Perhaps, Sushma Swaraj took old acquaintance Lalit Modi at face value and was befooled by him, since he took the go-ahead from the British government as an opportunity to go gallivanting.
Another allegation of impropriety that has touched the Minister is that Ms Swaraj met Lalit Modi in Britain in October 2014, of which too she did not inform her government. This has led to vociferous demand of Ms Swaraj’s resignation by the Congress. The External Affairs Minister is also being blamed for conflict of interest as her daughter is one of Lalit Modi’s lawyers for last seven years. Another charge being hurled at the minister is that Modi knew Sushma’s husband Swaraj Kaushal quite well from the time when Modi was clean and untouched by the IPL controversy.
Apart from the allegations against the BJP chief, another BJP leader and Rajasthan Chief Minister, Vasundhara Raje too is facing allegations in the case for giving a secret testimony supporting Lalit Modi's immigration plea in the UK. Her son, Dushyant Singh, has also been accused of receiving money in illicit transactions from Lalit Modi.
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley too has been dragged into the controversy by Modi tweeting that Jaitley was among the BCCI members who have received huge sums as TA/DA from the cricket board in cash. His tweets also targeted some unnamed senior Congress leaders.
However, this high voltage drama exposed by Times Now with the Channel’s editor in chief, Aranab Goswami shouting and out bursting for 4 long hours in ‘The Newshour’ has roared the Channel’s TRP, making it India’s no.1 English news and current affairs channels.
When Times Now started its ‘exclusive newsbreaks’, India Today Group’s Rahul Kanwal and Rajdeep Sardesai went overboard accusing Times Now of stealing the story from Sunday Times and sensationalizing it . But, a couple of days later, Rajdeep went all the way to Montenegro to interview Lalit Modi.
In the interview, Lalit Modi brought an explosive twist in the case by shifting blames on media tycoon Rupert Murdoch behind the Sunday Times leak linking him to external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj. Modi said, the British newspaper owned by Rupert Murdoch is after him as the News Corp boss has an old axe to grind with him over the IPL and the Champions League T20 row.