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Congress leaders upped the ante against CBI on Friday, 14 September, amid the ongoing furore over liquor baron Vijay Mallya fleeing India and charged against Central Bureau of Investigation’s claim on lack of evidence to establish fraud on Mallya’s part.
Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala said, “On 19 August 2014, SBI issued a notice stating Vijay Mallya is wilful defaulter. On September 2014, United Bank of India also stated same. By 2015, Serious Fraud Investigation Office and CBI registered complaints against him.
So how can CBI now say that they have no proof of his fraud?”
Holding that Jaitley has lost the legal, ethical and moral right to continue as minister and must resign, Surjewala said the silence of the union minister and Modi pointed at their admission of guilt.
Sonia, Rahul Flew For Free In Mallya’s Airlines: BJP
Responding to charges levelled by Congress, BJP hit back by alleging that former Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and present party President Rahul Gandhi flew for free in Mallya’s airlines.
Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) media head Anil Baluni fired off eight questions to the Congress.
He asked if its president Rahul Gandhi and his mother and predecessor Sonia Gandhi did not fly free of cost in Mallya’s Kingfisher Airlines in lieu of loans given to it.
It was the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government which “raised and protected” the fugitive tycoon, he said, claiming that Rahul Gandhi suffers from “ideological bankruptcy and does not know what he says, does and understands”.
Rahul Working With Mallya, Questions BJP
Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Thursday, 13 September, questioned Rahul Gandhi and said that he wonders if the Congress President is “working in tandem” with Vijay Mallya. Prasad also claimed that the liquor baron had allegedly benefitted from bank facilities during the UPA government.
This statement comes after Congress President Rahul Gandhi alleged that government and Jaitley are lying and the finance minister had “colluded with the criminal”.
In a series of tweets, the Union Minister questioned why a second restructuring of Mallya’s loan was allowed in 2010 contrary to rules.
He also said he could understand why the Congress was becoming uncomfortable when the banking system was being made transparent and accountable.
Rahul Gandhi Demands Jaitley’s Resignation
Earlier on Thursday, Rahul Gandhi reiterated his demand for Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s resignation over his alleged “collusion” with fugitive liquor baron Vijay Mallya.
Mallya had on 12 September said that he met Arun Jaitley right before leaving for London.
Gandhi called the issue an “open and shut case”, alleging an under-the-table deal between the government and Mallya.
Meanwhile, the finance minister, had dismissed Mallya’s claim as “false”.
As soon as Jaitley rubbished Mallya’s claim, the fugitive liquor baron seemingly toned down his comment. He said that it wasn’t a formal meeting – he had only met Jaitley in the Parliament.
But his so-called clarification didn’t do anything to placate the Congress which attacked the finance minister all guns blazing. Leaders from other political parties joined the chorus.
Jaitley Counters Mallya’s Claim of Having Met Him Before Leaving
Meanwhile, Congress Spokesperson Randeep Surjewala addressed another press conference, raking up PM Modi’s alleged meet with fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi.
I Saw Mallya and Jaitley Meet: PL Punia
Also at the press conference, Congress national spokesperson PL Punia alleged that he personally witnessed Mallya and Jaitley speak at the Parliament House in 2016.
“I saw Mally and Jaitley meet. It was Mallya’s first parliament session. Few days later, we found out that he had left the country”, he said, adding that Jaitley had concealed this fact for the longest time.
On Wednesday, Gandhi had called Mallya’s claims “extremely serious allegations”. The Congress President went on to demand Jaitley’s resignation.
Congress Launches Scathing Attack
Senior Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi also launched a scathing attack on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Jaitley. He demanded a thorough inquiry into Mallya’s claim.
“Everybody was complacent and everybody was aware, whether it was a casual meeting or a structured meeting. We need proper disclosures, full inquiries on this,” Singhvi told PTI.
In a swipe at the government’s ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas’ slogan, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the BJP’s sole aim now was bhagode ka saath, lootero ka vikas’ (helping absconders and enriching looters).
Another Congress leader, Anand Sharma, questioned why the finance minister didn’t disclose the information the government had on Mallya during his speeches in Parliament.
What Transpired in These Meetings, Asks Kejriwal
On Twitter, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi for having allegedly met Nirav Modi before he left the country and the finance minister having met Mallya.
Kejriwal also retweeted an old tweet (from 12 June 2018) by BJP MP Subramanian Swamy.
Swamy in his tweet back then, had asked how could Mallya escape the country despite a Look Out Notice (LON) against him. He further questioned the dilution of the LON by someone.
Dear Vijay Mallya, Arthur Road Jail Won’t Give You VIP Treatment
Even former BJP leader Yashwant Sinha raised questions against the entire BJP leadership, and said that they must come clean on their ties with the embattled liquor tycoon.
CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury also claimed that all those who ‘looted public money’ and left the country, have left with the knowledge of the government.
Congress’ KBC Question!
Taking a dig at the BJP and Jaitley, Congress, in a sarcastic tweet, put out a question in the Kaun Banega Crorepati format asking – “Who helped Vijay Mallya in escaping India?” All the four answers pointing fingers at the finance minister.
(With inputs from PTI)