Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday refuted Bharatiya Janata Party allegations that he assisted businessman Vijay Mallya in securing financial assistance to bail out the defunct Kingfisher Airlines. Singh said the letters, which the BJP had cited as evidence, were “routine transactions”.
During a Congress press conference, Singh said, “All prime ministers and other ministers in any government receive representations from various captains of industry which, in the normal course of things, are passed on to appropriate authorities.”
At a press conference earlier in the day, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra had said there are letters, emails and other correspondence to prove their claims that Singh had aided Mallya’s bail out. Patra said Singh, in the letters, had issued orders to ministries concerned to help the businessman. Mallya thanked the former Congress prime minister for his assistance and requested another favour, the BJP claimed. “A bail-out package was given to Kingfisher Airlines on Manmohan Singh’s insistence. Not only that, on the former prime minister’s insistence, the income tax department went soft on Mallya and his accounts were also unfrozen,” Patra said.
Despite Mallya’s companies declaring non-performing assets, Patra said, “The restructuring of his loan was done in 2010.” Banks that granted loans to the company include the State Bank of India, Bank of Baroda, State Bank of Mysore, Axis Bank, Corporation Bank, Federal Bank, Indian Overseas Bank, Jammu and Kashmir Bank, IDBI Bank, Punjab National Bank, Punjab and Sind Bank, UCO Bank and United Bank of India.
On Twitter, Mallya had said he was “kind of getting used to the witch hunts” against him. The businessman is reportedly in Britain and several Indian agencies have launched measures to ensure that he attends the trials in the cases against him.
On January 23, the Securities and Exchange Board of India had banned Mallya and six others from trading in the securities market in connection with the funds diversion case. The regulator said that funds for United Spirits Limited were diverted to other United Breweries companies, including Kingfisher Airlines. Mallya and others are involved in several cases connected with the airline. He left India in March 2016, owes more than Rs 9,000 crore to 17 banks.