NEW DELHI: A day after fugitive economic offender Vijay Mallya dropped hints that the BJP-led government could have stopped him from fleeing the country if it really wanted to, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday came under sharp attack from the Congress, which alleged the FM lied about his meeting with Mallya. The embattled liquor baron had said in London on Wednesday he had met Jaitley before leaving India and offered to settle his dues, a claim denied by Jaitley.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi sought Jaitley’s resignation for “colluding with a criminal”. He also targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the alleged ‘dilution’ of the CBI’s lookout notice for Mallya.
Talking to reporters here on Thursday, Gandhi alleged the FM knew about Mallya’s plan to flee but did nothing. “The FM did not inform the CBI, the ED, or the other arms of the government. Why? What was the deal?”
On the CBI’s lookout notice being diluted, he said it could not have happened without the intervention of the FM or the PM.
The Congress on Wednesday fielded party MP PL Punia who claimed he saw Jaitley and Mallya talking in the central hall of Parliament for around 15 minutes on March 1, 2016 — two days before the fugitive escaped.
“Jaitley has never referred to the said meeting in any speech or blog. But it can be verified through records and CCTV footage,” Punia said.
The BJP, in turn, placed the blame on Congress’ door alleging the previous UPA government pressurised financial institutions to bail out Mallya’s Kingfisher Airlines. Union minister Piyush Goyal said the Congress was targeting Jaitley to cover up its sins. “Rahul should answer what was the relation between his family and Mallya,” he said, rejecting Rahul’s demand for Jaitley’s resignation.