Days after Vijay Mallya’s startling revelation about his meeting with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley before leaving for London, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Friday claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi also played a role in fugitive tycoon’s “great escape”. The Congress president claimed that the move by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to dilute the lookout notice against Mallya was approved by the prime minister himself.
“Mallya’s Great Escape was aided by the CBI quietly changing the “Detain” notice for him, to “Inform”. The CBI reports directly to the PM. It is inconceivable that the CBI, in such a high profile, controversial case, would change a lookout notice without the approval of the PM,” Rahul said in his tweet.
Earlier on Wednesday, Mallya triggered a political firestorm in the country with his claim about the meeting with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley before he fled to London in 2016.
“I left because I had a scheduled meeting in Geneva. I met the Finance Minister before I left, repeated my offer to settle with the banks. That is the truth,” Mallya told reporters outside London’s Westminster Magistrates court.
Jaitley, however, rebutted Mallya's claims and said that the statement was “factually false in as much as it does not reflect truth.”
“Since 2014, I have never given him any appointment to meet me and the question of his having met me does not arise. However, since he was a Member of Rajya Sabha and he occasionally attended the House, he misused that privilege on one occasion while I was walking out of the House to go to my room. He paced up to catch up with me and while walking uttered a sentence that ”I am making an offer of settlement,” he wrote in his Facebook post.
After Mallya's claim, the Congress president had demanded Jaitley's resignation terming his continuation "disgraceful".
"For 2.5 yrs Mr Jaitley has hidden from the public & the investigation agencies the meeting, he now suddenly remembers, in which Mr Mallya told him he was leaving for London. This is enough to make his continuance as FM untenable & disgraceful," he had tweeted.
Meanwhile, the BJP came out in defence of the finance minister and countered the Gandhi scion, accusing the Congress-led UPA government of "raising and protecting" Mallya.
"Is it not true that in exchange for providing (bank) loans to Mallya the then UPA chairperson and Congress president Sonia Gandhi and current Congress president Rahul Gandhi travelled free of cost in the airline's business class," BJP's media head Anil Baluni asked.
The sixty-two-year-old the former boss of now-grounded Kingfisher airlines, is wanted in India for defaulting loans of state-run banks worth around 9,000 crore. He had fled the country on March 2, 2016, the very day when the banks had moved the Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT).