The Congress party has alleged that Bharatiya Janata Party leader and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley met liquor baron Vijay Mallya before the latter secretly left India March 2. The question was raised in Parliament Monday, in a sign of worsening political tensions over the industrialist's departure even as banks seek to get back Rs 9,000 crore loaned to him.
Congress leader Pramod Tiwari raised the issue of the alleged meeting between Jaitley and Mallya, in Rajya Sabha Monday, and the Upper House's deputy chairman P.J. Kurien asked for the matter to be referred to the Ethics Committee of the Rajya Sabha, of which Mallya is a member, according to Mint.
The Congress in a statement sought to know — "Whether Vijay Mallya met and spoke to finance minister, Arun Jaitley before he suddenly left the country on 2 March, 2016? Whether Arun Jaitley informed and gave details of this conversation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi? Will the complete details of this meeting and conversation be shared with Parliament and people of India?''
The Congress party has alleged that Jaitley and Mallya met in Parliament March 1, a day before the latter flew out of the country, according to the Times of India. Jaitley had said in Parliament last week there were no orders by any agency to stop Mallya the day he left.
The Congress party, led by its vice-president Rahul Gandhi, has launched scathing attacks on the BJP-led government ever since news broke of Mallya's secretive exit from India just days before a consortium of banks moved court seeking his passport be impounded on defaulting on loans.
"Will government seek deportation of Mallya from England so that precious public money amounting to Rs 9,091 crore can be recovered at the earliest? Or, whether government proposes to put this case in cold storage by seeking extradition through a multi-layered statutory process lasting years as has been done in case of Lalit Modi?" Congress spokesman Randeep Surjewala reportedly questioned Monday.
The BJP has in turn hit out at the Congress party, reminding it of the departure of Ottavio Quattrocchi, the Italian businessman who faced criminal charges in India in the Bofors scandal.
Mallya, who in his tweets said he was not an absconder, has been summoned by the Enforcement Directorate for questioning this Friday. It is not clear if the businessman will appear before the investigators, with Reuters pointing out Mallya's co-owned Force India Formula One team is set to compete in the Australian Grand Prix this weekend. Mallya is reported to make appearance at races for his team.