Who let Mallya flee India?
What about Quattrocchi, asks BJP
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday raked up the Bofors case reminding Rahul Gandhi of Ottavio Quattrocchi’s escape to hit back at him for his attack on the government over liquor baron Vijay Mallya leaving the country despite owing over Rs 9,000 crore to banks.
Jaitley underscored that the loans were given during UPA rule and said mockingly that the Congress Vice President perhaps “could not understand” his answer. He also advised Gandhi to “study Constitution once” after the opposition party questioned Mallya’s continuance as member of Rajya Sabha. Debunking Gandhi’s criticism on why Mallya was not stopped from leaving the country, the Minister said,
“There is a legal process to stop anybody. Either your passport has been impounded or there is any court order. Except that immigration cannot stop you.” “Banks have gone to the Supreme Court to take an order and perhaps in the anticipation of that he (Mallya) left before,” Jaitley said when asked about Gandhi’s question as to how did the government allow Mallya to leave the country.
Raking up the Bofors case of Rajiv Gandhi tenure that has haunted Congress for decades, Jaitley trained his guns on the Congress Vice President.
“But Rahul ji should remember that there is a basic difference in Mallya leaving (the country) and Quattrocchi going out (of India). And let me explain him the difference.
“When the officials of Switzerland informed that Quattrocchi was also among the beneficiaries of Bofors and though the person who was heading the CBI investigation earlier K Madhavan wrote a letter that his passport should be impounded, the then government had not stopped him and within two days he left India. That was a criminal case,” the Finance Minister said addressing the Cabinet briefing.
Stressing that there is a difference between the two incidents, Jaitley also said that by the time Mallya left, the banks had not initiated the legal process.
“It would have been better had the banks done it earlier,” he, however, acknowledged.
Jaitley also dismissed a question on why Mallya’s passport was not confiscated.
Congress says BJP to blame
Main Opposition Congress on Thursday raised the issue of liquor baron and bank defaulter Vijay Mallya leaving the country both inside and outside Parliament.
“How did Mallya manage to flee? Why did the government allow him to go?” Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi said as he attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the issue. The matter was raised in the Rajya Sabha by leader of opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad, who said “Mallya is not a small instrument like a needle, which cannot be seen from a far distance. Why was Vijay Mallya not arrested? Why was his passport not seized?”
“When a poor man steals, he is beaten up and thrown into jail. Someone who does not have food to eat and steals a roti is beaten up and put behind bars and a big businessmen who steals Rs 9,000 crore from country, you allow him to escape in First Class from the country. What is this happening?” Rahul Gandhi told mediapersons taking potshots at the government.
“We simply asked that someone who stole Rs 9,000 crore from the country, how did he run away from the country. How did you allow him to escape? This is the simple question and we neither got a reply to this from Modiji nor from Jaitley ji. The question is why did your government allow him to run away from the country,” he told reporters outside Parliament.
In Lok Sabha, Leader of Congress in the House Mallikarjun Kharge said, “I am not going into the merits of the case. The only question is that the complete inaction from the Public sector banks which facilitated Vijay Mallya to leave the country despite having the order for impounding his passport as part of loan recovery proceeding raises apprehension.”
The Congress and the Left parties also walked out of the Lok Sabha to protest against government inaction in the matter.