The political battle over Vijay Mallya’s claims of meeting Union Minister Arun Jaitley raged since morning, with the BJP alleging that it was the Congress and the Gandhis who were close to the fugitive liquor baron. Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, the BJP alleged, owned the now defunct Kingfisher Airline by proxy and there are “18 pages worth of evidence” about their links, the BJP said.
“Papers show that Kingfisher Airlines was not owned by Mallya but by the Gandhi parivaar,” BJP spokesman Sambit Patra said at a press conference.
Reading out from one of a bunch of papers, which he said were evidence of the links between the Congress and the wanted tycoon, Mr Mallya said the loans to the now defunct Kingfisher airline were restructured twice — in 2008 and 2012.
The second time it was done by request of the government, which said “this should be done only for Kingfisher,” he added, citing what he said were letters from the Reserve Bank of India.
Rahul Gandhi, he said, took a loan of Rs 1 crore from Vijay Mallya. “That he and his mother Sonia Gandhi used to get free business upgrade (in Kingfisher flights) is something which is in the public domain,” Mr Patra added.
Yesterday, Vijay Mallya had said he had a “meeting” with Arun Jaitley before he left India in 2016 – which triggered a huge opposition attack on the BJP. The finance minister dismissed the sensational claim as “factually false” and said Vijay Mallya had accosted him in the corridor of parliament. Later, Vijay Mallya too backtracked, confirming the minister’s version of events.
“The appointment was not done in corridor but in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s office. Manmohan Singh helped Kingfisher Airlines… Sonia, Rahul-ji, please hold a press conference and provide answers to this,” Sambit Patra said.