The Bharatiya Janata Party lashed out at Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Thursday, a day after he called for Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s resignation for having allegedly met fugitive businessman Vijay Mallya before he left for the United Kingdom in 2016.
Mallya, who is accused of defrauding Indian banks of over Rs 9,000 crore, claimed during his extradition trial in London that he had met Jaitley in Parliament and told him that he was ready to settle his dues to banks. The minister denied meeting Mallya and said “the statement is factually false in as much as it does not reflect truth”.
“We have proof that Rahul Gandhi was using black money and the Gandhi family was helping Vijay Mallya with sweet deals,” News18 quoted BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra as saying at the news conference in New Delhi.
“There are documents that show how the Reserve Bank of India and the United Progressive Alliance under Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh had given ‘sweet deals’ to Kingfisher Airlines,” Patra said, referring to the airline that was owned by the liquor baron. The Congress president, he alleged, took Rs 1-crore loan from a shell company. “We have the confession of one of the company directors.”
“Rahul Gandhi has gone on back foot over Kingfisher Airlines,” ANI quoted Patra as saying. “Sometimes it seems the airlines was not owned by Mallya but by Gandhi family in proxy. Benefits that Gandhi family got out of Kingfisher Airlines via business class upgradation, free tickets etc are in public domain.”
The BJP leader claimed that the party has “letters in which Vijay Mallya thanks Manmohan Singh for his help”. So why is Rahul Gandhi asking us who Mallya ran into at certain corridors, Patra asked.
Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad pointed out that Mallya had made the comment weeks after Rahul Gandhi’s return from a visit to London, News 18 reported. “Did anyone notice that all these new allegations by Mallya are coming after Rahul Gandhi’s visit to London?” Prasad asked. “Is there a connection? You [media] should look into it.”
Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan accused Mallya of taking undue advantage of Jaitley’s presence in Parliament. “It is a lie and violation of decorum,” ANI quoted Pradhan as saying. The fact that the Congress believes in the comments of an absconding businessman reveals their friendship, he added.
Pradhan said the government would try and bring back Mallya as long as Prime Minister Narendra Modi is at the helm.
Union Railways Minister Piyush Goyal said the UPA government had violated all norms for Mallya and Kingfisher Airlines since 2010. “This shows the propensity to which the Congress can lie to cover-up their sins,” he said at a press conference in New Delhi.
Goyal accused the Congress of looting public money and sought Rahul Gandhi’s resignation from all party posts. “Now, when we are trying to recover the money, we are being blamed instead,” he said. The BJP government, he added, has been strict with defaulters and has worked to bring back the cash looted during the Congress regime.
Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh’s Shia Central Waqf Board chairperson Waseem Rizvi told ANI that Gandhi and Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad had put pressure on him not to complain against Mallya for allegedly encroaching upon a property owned by Shia Waqf Board near Meerut.