Mallya Row: CBI’s Diluted Notice, Delayed Case by Banks Gives Congress More Ammo Against Modi Govt
The Congress targeted finance minister Arun Jaitley, claiming his silence over the shocking revelation of his “meeting with Mallya” points towards admission of guilt.
File photo of liquor baron Vijay Mallya.
New Delhi: The Congress on Friday continued its attack on the Narendra Modi government for allegedly allowing fugitive tycoon Vijay Mallya to flee the country in 2016, saying it was inconceivable that it was done without the Prime Minister’s approval and the buck should stop with him.
The party latched on to the CBI’s admission that it made an “error of judgment” in diluting the Look Out Circular against Mallya in 2016 from detain to inform, as well as a delay by a consortium of banks led by the State Bank of India in moving the Supreme Court against the liquor baron despite being advised to do so by senior advocate Dushyant Dave.
“The question is simple, nation wants to know who was the architect, executor, benefactor and protector in this case?” party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala asked, hinting that both banks and investigative agencies were asked to go easy on Mallya at the behest of the Modi government.
Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, in a tweet, also said that CBI could have changed its lookout notice without the approval of the PM in such a high profile and controversial case as the “CBI reports directly to the PM.”
Surjewala, quoting media reports, said that SC lawyer Dushyant Dave has stated that he advised 17 banks on how to approach the apex court to seize Mallya's passport in February 2016 before his departure to the UK, but a petition was filed only four days after he fled.
The SBI has denied any laxity on its part in dealing with the case, but did not give any reason for the delay in moving the petition.
“Why did SBI, that was representing the 17 banks, not approach Supreme Court immediately? Who ordered them to not approach? In July 2015, Mr. Mallya owed ₹7000 crore. Why didn't the banks take any action against him? Who in Modi government was asking banks to not take action?” he asked. “Who ordered CBI to change the lookout notice from 'to detain' to 'to inform'?” he added.
The Congress also upped the ante against finance minister Arun Jaitley, claiming his silence over the shocking revelation of his “meeting with Mallya” points towards admission of guilt.
He said that Congress MP PL Punia, who claimed on Thursday he had seen Jaitley hold an elaborate meeting with Mallya in the central hall of Parliament, had even offered to quit politics if he was wrong, but the government and Jaitley are not daring to rebut and also not releasing CCTV footage of the incident.
Jaitley, on his part, has denied meeting Mallya. In a statement on Tuesday, he said the businessman had briefly approached him but was snubbed and the meeting claim was “factually false”.
BJP has also levelled allegations against the Congress and claimed the Gandhi family had tried to salvage the sinking Kingfisher Airlines with a “sweet deal“.
Union minister Piyush Goyal said UPA relaxed norms to favour Kingfisher Airlines in 2010 and alleged that the Congress party and its leaders, including the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, were “involved in a conspiracy to bail out Kingfisher Airlines”.
Goyal said that loans were extended to the airlines, “again and again”.
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