Embattled businessman Vijay Mallya is a “victim of flamboyance and arrogance rather than any political conspiracy”, Air Deccan chairperson GR Gopinath has said, PTI reported on Tuesday. Gopinath had sold Air Deccan to Kingfisher Airlines, which was owned by Mallya, for Rs 1,000 crore in 2007.

Air Deccan on December 23 resumed its operations, with the first flight taking off for the city of Jalgaon in Maharashtra from Mumbai.

Gopinath called Mallya a “political football” who borrowed money when the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government was in power, and said that the liquor baron was a “poster boy for loan defaults”.

“I think he should have acted sooner by mobilising funds from his other liquor companies and rescued Kingfisher Airlines,” Gopinath said. “But it was too late.” If SpiceJet Ltd could be saved, Kingfisher Airlines too could have been rescued, he added.

Kingfisher Airlines, which has been grounded since 2012, owes banks over Rs 9,000 crore. Mallya, who at one point of time had a thriving liquor business and owned a Formula One team, has been in the United Kingdom since March 2016, and the Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London is at present hearing India’s case for extraditing him.

On December 7, Mallya moved against an order passed by a British court that froze his assets worth £1.15 billion (about Rs 9,900 crore). The order was passed by the court after 12 Indian banks and a financial institution filed a litigation.