P Chidambaram
Congress leader and former Finance Minister P Chidambaram.IANS

The Congress on Thursday attacked the BJP on the Lalit Modi issue claiming that while the Congress government wanted the former IPL chief deported from the UK, it was the BJP which had sought his extradition, knowing that the process would take a decade at least.

A letter sent by former Finance Minister P Chidambaram to his UK counterpart has revealed that the then Congress government wanted the tainted former IPL chief deported to India, and not extradited. 

"I would like to clarify that we are not seeking the extradition of Mr Modi. We are seeking his deportation," the letter, which NDTV reports to have been accessed by filing a Right to Information appeal, said.

"I am concerned that despite his passport having been lawfully revoked, resulting in Mr Modi no longer having a valid travel document, he continues to be permitted by authorities to stay in the UK," the letter further read.

The UK foreign office had sought a request of extradition in its response dated 23 September, 2013. "While the British government appreciates the seriousness with which you take Mr Modi's case...where criminal investigations are involved, an extradition request made in the usual manner may be the most timely and appropriate step," the letter addressed to then Indian junior minister for external affairs Preneet Kaur said.

Chidambaram had also mentioned in the letter that Modi "was being investigated by the competent authorities in India for possible serious offences". 

Modi is facing an Enforcement Directorate (ED) probe into allegations of money laundering. He fled to London in 2010, following an investigation by the ED.

The letter, dated 21 August, 2013, is believed to bring some relief to the Congress which had been under fire for its efforts to bring Modi back to India.

The row over Modi started with the revelation that BJP External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had assisted Modi secure UK visa to travel to Portugal last year.

Later on, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje's name was also dragged into the spat between the ruling party and the opposition parties.

Lalit Modi had in June released a document which stated that Raje helped him in obtaining British travel papers on condition that her help be kept hidden from the Indian authorities.

The Congress had stalled the parliamentary sessions earlier this year seeking clarification over the two allegations.

Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said that the letter is a "clear proof" of the "exhaustive efforts" made by then UPA government to bring Modi to justice.

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