Fugitive businessman Vijay Mallya, who is accused of cheating Indian public sector banks and is facing an extradition trial in the United Kingdom, on Wednesday drew comparisons between his case and that of Cafe Coffee Day founder VG Siddhartha. Siddhartha, whose body was found in the morning, was allegedly being harassed by the tax department.
“I am indirectly related to VG Siddhartha,” he tweeted. “Excellent human and brilliant entrepreneur. I am devastated with the contents of his letter. The government agencies and banks can drive anyone to despair. See what they are doing to me despite offer of full repayment. Vicious and unrelenting.”
Mallya said in western countries, governments and banks help borrowers repay debts. “In my case they are obstructing every possible effort for me to repay my debt whilst competing for my assets,” he alleged. “As far as the prima facie criminal case goes wait for the appeal granted.”
Industrialist Anand Mahindra said he did not know Siddhartha and had no knowledge of his financial circumstances. “I only know that entrepreneurs must not allow business failure to destroy their self-esteem,” he added. “That will bring about the death of entrepreneurship.”
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday tweeted her condolences to Siddhartha’s family and said she was “deeply shocked” to hear about his death. “From what he has expressed, it appears that he was greatly depressed due to harassment and pressure from different agencies for which he could not run his business in a peaceful manner,” she said. Banerjee used the opportunity to criticise the central government for the deteriorating economic growth numbers and added, “The overall economy is in bad shape with the common people suffering the most.”
Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of betraying the people who voted for an independent and hassle-free economy, PTI reported. “There is an old notion of ‘government has no business in business’ and Modi in his pre-2014 election campaign made a big deal about it,” he tweeted. “Today he has absolutely betrayed the people who voted for him to see a robust, independent, hassle-free economy.”
Singhvi alleged that since his re-election, Modi had tried “majoritarianism, minoritarianism, Kashmir, Pakistan, Muslim women, Ram and even Man vs Wild” to divert people’s attention from pressing problems. “From what exactly?” he asked. “Failing economy, rising unemployment, failing infra, farmers dying, failing law and order.”
Congress MP Karti Chidambaram, who is being investigated in corruption cases, claimed that for entrepreneurs, managing “the systematic harassment by the state and its pliant agencies is the biggest challenge”. “IT, ED, CBI, ROC etc are the biggest impediments for ease of business,” he added.