‘Jaitley colluded with a criminal’: Congress claims his meeting with Vijay Mallya lasted 15 minutes
Congress MP PL Punia claimed on Thursday that he had seen Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and businessman Vijay Mallya meet in the Central Hall of the Parliament during the Budget Session of 2016, and said their meeting had lasted around 15 to 20 minutes.
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“On March 1, 2016, when I was in Central Hall of Parliament, I witnessed Arun Jaitley and Vijay Mallya talking discretely,” Punia claimed. “On March 3, we heard from media that he fled the country on March 2.”
Mallya, who is accused of fleeing to London after Indian defrauding banks of crores of rupees, was himself a member of the Rajya Sabha then. He claimed on Wednesday that he had met Jaitley before leaving India and had offered to reach a settlement with banks. Jaitley said Mallya had indeed walked up to him “on one occasion” as he was leaving the House, but he did not allow him to proceed with the conversation.
On Thursday, Congress President Rahul Gandhi accused Jaitley of “colluding with a criminal” in helping him “run away” from the country. He said there were only two possibilities – either Jaitley helped Mallya escape of his own accord, or did so on instructions from Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Gandhi accused Jaitley of lying and asked him to clarify which of these was true.
Gandhi said it was an “open-and-shut case” and Jaitley should resign from his post. The logistics of Mallya’s running away from India were discussed during the “extended meeting”, he claimed, adding that Jaitley had allowed a criminal “free passage” out of the country. He asked why Jaitley did not inform the Central Bureau of Investigation, the Enforcement Directorate or the police about the conversation.
Gandhi had on Wednesday urged Modi to order an independent investigation into the matter.
In his response to Mallya’s claim in a Facebook post, Jaitley had said: “Having been fully briefed about his earlier ‘bluff offers’, without allowing him to proceed with the conversation, I curtly told him there was no point talking to me and he must make offers to his bankers. I did not even receive the papers that he was holding in his hand.”
Mallya is undergoing an extradition trial in the United Kingdom.
On 1st March 2016, when I was in Central Hall of Parliament House, I witnessed @arunjaitley and Vijay Mallya talking discretely. On 3rd March, we heard from media that he fled the country on 2nd March, 2016: @plpunia#ArunJaitleyStepDown— Congress (@INCIndia) September 13, 2018
Mr Jaitley is lying, the Govt is lying: Congress President @Rahul— Congress (@INCIndia) September 13, 2018