MUMBAI: The Shiv Sena Saturday hit out at the Congress saying its allegations against Finance Minister Arun Jaitley over fugitive tycoon Vijay Mallya's claims on meeting him were "ridiculous".
The saffron party asked if the Congress knew about their meeting, why did it remain silent all these years.
Wondering who was pulling the strings of the Congress and Mallya, the Sena said the controversy was a part of the preparation for the 2019 general elections.
"Mallya is a liar. The statement he made in a London court has landed Arun Jaitley in trouble. He claimed that before leaving India, he had met Jaitley and offered settlement. " "But what is the need of making Jaitley an accused in the case just on the basis of Mallya's statement? But Congress has done that," the Sena said in an editorial in its mouthpiece 'Saamana'.
"Mallya left the country without repaying loans worth thousands of crores. Currently, he is facing extradition trial in London. There are 16 banks in the country that are hit by NPAs and those who took loans from these banks were tycoons, including Mallya," it added.
The Uddhav Thackeray-led party added that although Mallya tried to go for one-time settlement, the banks were not ready for it.
"The banks were not ready for Mallya's offer and hence he met Jaitley in the Parliament. Being an MP himself, it was Mallya's right to roam on the Parliament premises.
Therefore, the Congress leader (PL) Punia's charge that Jaitley is also an accused in the case is outrightly ridiculous," it said.
In fact, the kind of people Congress and BJP have as their MPs, the ministers face a dilemma whom to meet and whom to avoid.
Moreover, Mallya is not the only one who defaulted on loan repayment. There are many such loan defaulters roaming openly as MPs, the party said.
"It has now come to light that Congress president Rahul Gandhi was present at a family function of (fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi. So, should Congress chief Rahul Gandhi be blamed for his escape?" the Sena asked.
"Mallya made the revelations in the court after so many years. If the Congress knew about the meeting beforehand, why did it hide it for so long?" "Or is it that there is somebody else behind Mallya's revelations and the subsequent attacks by the Congress.
It is all a part of 2019 poll preparations. Those unwanted are being removed now. It is happening with Jaitley," the Sena said.
Mallya had last Wednesday claimed in London that he had met the finance minister before leaving for the UK, drawing a rebuttal from Jaitley who said he never gave him any appointment but the businessman used his privilege as an MP to accost him in Parliament.
Latching on to his comments, the Congress president had accused Jaitley of providing Mallya a "free passage" to "run away" from India.
The Sena said Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi, an accused in the Bofors scandal, could not have left India without the help from the Indian government and the CBI.
Quattrocchi had fled India in 1993 never to return and did not face trial in the cases filed against him. He died in July 2013.