New Delhi: In no mood to spare the Narendra Modi government over absconding industrialist Vijay Mallya, the Congress party on Wednesday asked the ruling party to explain how and why the former Kingfisher Airlines boss was allowed to leave the country.
”The government must explain how and why Vijay Mallya was allowed to leave India,” the Congress said shortly after the liquor baron claimed in London that he had met Finance Minister Arun Jaitley before leaving the country in 2014.
Attacking the Centre, the Congress party said, ”The Modi government was fully complicit in the flight of people such as Mallya, Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi from the country.”Speaking on the issue, senior Congress leader Anand Sharma said, ”Vijay Mallya has run away after looting money from banks. The government had this info. So, when the Finance Minister gave statements in Parliament on Vijay Mallya issue, he should have mentioned about this meeting with Mallya. Only FM can tell why he didn’t tell about it?.”
Later making a similar statement, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said Mallya’s claim is a vindication of the party’s stand and assertion that the government was always in the know about Mallya, Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and others who have fled the country.
Singhvi said the country wants to know what transpired during the meetings between Mallya and Jaitley.
“Today we have a categorical assertion by Mallya in the UK about the number of times he met the finance minister to have some resolution of his dues with banks. The government should now explain how and why he was allowed to leave and what transpired at those meetings. The nation wants to know,” he said.
Singhvi said the Congress has repeatedly asserted for the past over 18 months that not only Vijay Mallya, but also Nirav Modi, Choksi and many others have been allowed to leave the country with impunity.
He said the phrase used by Mallya that ‘I met the finance minister’ does not suggest a passing and casual meeting inside Rajya Sabha.
The Congress also tweeted on its official handle, saying, “Vijay Mallya met FM Arun Jaitley several times before escaping the country to discuss a settlement plan, in spite of this the BJP government allowed him to flee with thousands of crores debt. Do we need any more proof that this government. Is in the pocket of crony capitalists.”
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said that with Mallya’s revelation one thing is clear that the BJP is running “a travel, tour and immigration agency for looters to settle abroad”.
“After Mallya reveals his ‘consultation meetings’ before his smooth escape…One thing is clear…BJP is running tour, travels and immigration agency for loot, scoot and settle abroad brigade,” Surjewala said.
The Congress leader also said the BJP’s sole aim now was ‘Bhagode ka saath, Lootero ka vikas’ (helping absconders and enriching looters), in a swipe at the government’s ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas’ slogan.
“Vijay Mallya left India with the country’s money after a farewell from Arun Jaitley. Chowkidaar nahin, Bhagidaar hai (Not a watchman, but a partner),” he tweeted in Hindi.
The renewed attack from Congress came shortly after the 62-year-old former Kingfisher Airlines boss told reporters in London that he met Arun Jaitley and offered to settle the loan issue with the banks.
“I left India because I had a scheduled meeting in Geneva. Before leaving I met the finance minister and offered to settle (the issue with the banks), Mallya said, without naming the minister.
However, shortly after that, FM Jaitley issued a statement refuting Mallya’s claim that the fugitive business tycoon met him.
Refuting the charges made by Mallya as “factually false,” Jaitley claimed, ”The statement is factually false in as much as it does not reflect the truth. Since 2014, I’ve never given him any appointment to meet me and the question of his having met me does not arise.”
FM Jaitley also accused Mallya of ”misusing” his stature as the Rajya Sabha MP.
”Vijay Mallya “misused” privilege of being Rajya Sabha MP to catch me in the corridors of Parliament on one occasion while he was walking out of the House to go to his room, ” the Finance Minister said.
FM Jaitley also issued a denial in a Facebook post on the issue titled ”The Factual Situation”.
Mallya is currently an absconder after he fled the country with dues with banks to the extent of over Rs 9,000 crore. He is facing court proceedings in London where India’s plea for his extradition is being heard.