On Wednesday, Arun Jaitley had said there was just one sentence exchange between him and Mallya while walking.
NEW DELHI — Day after Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, in his bid to come out clean, said that there was no formal meeting between him and Vijay Mallya and there was just one sentence exchange between the two while walking, Congress on Thursday made a big charge against Jaitley saying the meeting between him and Mallya in the Central Hall of Parliament House lasted 15-20 minutes.
Vijay Mallya and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had a “15-minute sit-down meeting in parliament” just two days before the fugitive tycoon’s flight to the UK in March 2016, and a Congress leader was witness to it, Rahul Gandhi alleged at a press conference on Thursday.
“Arun Jaitley is lying, Congress leader PL Puniya witnessed his meeting with Vijay Mallya,” the Congress president said.
Addressing the press conference, Rajya Sabha MP Puniya said: “I was in the central hall of Parliament House. I saw Jaitley and Mallya standing and talking in the corner. After 5-7 minutes, they sat on the bench and started talking. Mallya had come for the first time just to meet Jaitley. It is my challenge. You can look at CCTV footage and see if I am wrong. If I am wrong, I will resign.”
Congress president Rahul Gandhi demanded resignation of Jaitley. He also demanded Prime Minister Narendra Modi to order a probe into the issue.
There Was One Sentence Exchange With Mallya: Arun Jaitley
As the news about his meeting with Mallya set the TV channels and social media on fire Wednesday evening, Jaitley went to Facebook to explain his position.
“My attention has been drawn to a statement made to the media by Vijay Mallya on having met me with an offer of settlement.
The statement is factually false in as much as it does not reflect truth. Since 2014, I have never given him any appointment to meet me and the question of his having met me does not arise. However, since he was a Member of Rajya Sabha and he occasionally attended the House, he misused that privilege on one occasion while I was walking out of the House to go to my room. He paced up to catch up with me and while walking uttered a sentence that “I am making an offer of settlement”. Having been fully briefed about his earlier “bluff offers”, without allowing him to proceed with the conversation, I curtly told him “there was no point talking to me and he must make offers to his bankers.” I did not even receive the papers that he was holding in his hand. Besides this one sentence exchange where he misused his privilege as a Rajya Sabha Member, in order to further his commercial interest as a bank debtor, there is no question of my having ever given him an appointment to meet me.”
Liquor baron Mallya fled India and flew to the UK on 2nd March 2016 amid attempts to recover over Rs. 9,000 crore in unpaid loans from him. A lookout notice against him, calling for his detention on sight at airports, was diluted months before he left the country.
On Wednesday, Mallya claimed that he had met the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley before leaving India in 2016 and made an offer of settlement.
“I had a scheduled meeting in Geneva. I met the Finance Minister before I left…repeated my offer to settle with the banks. That is the truth,” Mallya told reporters outside a Westminster court in London where he is contesting an extradition case filed by Indian authorities.
Opposition Corners Modi Over Jaitly-Mallya Meeting
The entire Opposition is cornering the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the meeting between Jaitley and Mallya.
Leading the Opposition’s attack, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday accused Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley of “colluding” with fugitive liquor baron Vijay Mallya to help him flee the country and demanded his resignation.
He asked why Jaitley had not informed the investigative agencies about his meeting with Mallya.
“The Finance Minister talks to an absconder (Mallya), and the absconder tells the Finance Minister ‘I am going to London’. Yet the Minister neither tells the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the Enforcement Directorate (ED) or the police. Why?” Gandhi told the media at the party headquarters here on Thursday.
“He was given a free passage to leave the country by Jaitley,” said Gandhi and alleged that the logistics of Mallya going out of the country were discussed at that meeting.
“The Finance Minister has colluded with a criminal planning to run away from the country,” he said.
Congress President demanded Jaitley’s resignation. He also demanded Prime Minister Narendra Modi to order an “independent probe” into the matter.
Several Opposition leaders have also attacked the Modi government over the meeting between Jaitley and Mallya. Below are a few comments:
Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M General Secretary): “As with the Rafale scam and Choksi scam, this latest revelation by Mallya puts Modi govt in the dock. It is not the finance minister alone, we cannot be sure what other facts are being hidden even now.”
“This only reconfirms how this Modi government enables big defaulters to loot public money and scoot.”
Arvind Kejriwal (AAP Leader and Delhi Chief Minister): “PM Modi meets Neerav Modi before he flees the country. FM meets Vijay Mallya before he flees India. What transpired in these meetings? People want to know.”
Yashwant Sinha (Former Finance Minister and former BJP leader): “Not only the finance minister, the entire BJP must come clean on its relations with Vijay Mallya.”
Tejashwi Yadav (RJD leader and former Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar): “Entire Modi government is hand in glove with scamsters & absconders. They hatched a plot to loot hundreds of thousands of Crores. PM & FM must respond on this.”