NEW DELHI: The Congress Party on Thursday criticised the BJP-led NDA Government for not arresting liquor baron Vijay Mallya and allowing him to leave the country freely.
Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad said Mallya is not a small instrument like a needle, which cannot be seen from a far distance.
He can be seen from a distance of one km. I accuse this government as to why was Vijay Mallya not arrested? Why was his passport not seized?” he asked.
Another Congress leader Jairam Ramesh also targeted the government on the issue.
“The question is not about who gave loans to Mallya, the question is why was he allowed to leave India. Why was Vijay Mallya allowed to leave the country?” he asked in the Rajya Sabha.
The Congress Vice President attacked the government, saying the entire country is questioning why it was "helping" people like Mallya by allowing him to escape and not fulfilling its promises made to people for bringing back black money and "giving Rs 15 lakh into every person's bank account".
He also hit out at the Modi government for bringing the "Fair and Lovely" tax amnesty scheme, saying it only helped thieves, black marketeers and drug mafia to convert their black money into white.
"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?
"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.
However, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley led a counterattack against the grand old party, saying that it was under the UPA regime when Mallya went abroad and a case was registered under Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA)and he added pointing out the Bofors case to remind Congress of Ottavio Quattrocchi's escape during their rule. Speaking in the upper house, he said that the CBI is looking into the matter.
The Supreme Court has issued a notice to Mallya on a plea filed by a consortium of 13 PSU banks headed by the State Bank of India. The lenders had moved the apex court to prevent Mallya from leaving the country and impounding his passport even as the loan recovery procedure for Kingfisher Airlines is still on.
The notice will be served through the Indian High Commission in London. Based on CBI inputs, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the banks, informed the Supreme Court that Mallya left India on March 2 and could be in the UK.
The apex court has sought Mallya's response to the banks' plea by March 30 which is the next date of hearing.
(With inputs from ANI and PTI)