Millennium Post

Bank defaulter, yet king of good times?

The curious case of Vijay Mallya never fails to baffle us. One of the biggest bank loan defaulters who owes public sector banks over Rs 7,200 crore, thanks to his loss-making and now grounded Kingfisher Airlines, nevertheless, manages to splurge crores on making expensive purchases in the auction of the latest edition of the Indian Premier League. His United Breweries Group-owned IPL team Royal Challengers Bangalore spent hefty amount of money on buying up and retaining players during the IPL-7 bidding, to the extent of making the costliest purchase at Rs 14 crore on Yuvraj Singh, even though his shuttered airline posted a third quarter loss of Rs 822 crore. Of course, Mallya, who hasn’t paid his KFA employees salaries for close to two years now finds it imperative to own an IPL team in the first place and continue to hog the limelight as the glamorous ‘King of good times’, despite imposing hard times on his beleaguered airline staff, despite repeated strikes, government warning and even corruption charges on the corporate. Mallya’s shameless flexing of the money muscle and going to the extreme length of retaining Yuvraj Singh by becoming the highest bidder at Rs 14 crore comes in the wake of the company’s owing Rs 350 crore to its employees, and as reports have claimed, even the income tax deducted from the KFA staff weren’t remitted to I-T authorities, instead finding its way back into the Mallya coffer.

This is really the rock bottom that crony capitalism can possibly hit. Instead of rectifying his TDS violations and clearing off his humongous debts, Mallya has taken to the other route: of denying any corruption in the sleazefest that is the IPL. Despite the Justice Mukul Mudgal Committee’s scathing attack on the IPL and its gross culture of perpetuating a global sports betting racket, Mallya brushed off the allegations and said that scandals were part and parcel of every sport and that the brand value of the cash-rich tournament remained untarnished. Even after the indictment of Gurunath Meiyappan, the son-in-law of the BCCI chief N Srinivasan and former Team Principal of the Chennai Super Kings, in the IPL-6 spot-fixing scam, Mallya’s concern remained with putting up a shadowy and flimsy defence of the overindulgences, financial and otherwise, of the thoroughly corrupt league and its extravagant, indeed hierarchic spending on cricketers, creating an arbitrary and artificial tier not based on on-field performance but pretty much on the ephemera of perception. Naturally, the question is not exactly if Yuvraj Singh is worth the price-tag but rather: how can a man who is a known bank defaulter and has several financial bunglings to his credit be allowed to be the owner of an IPL team?
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