Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday rubbished Vijay Mallya’s claim of having met him before fleeing to London, saying he never gave him an appointment after becoming a minister in 2014 but the fugitive liquor baron misused his position as a Member of Parliament to accost him once in Parliament.
“The statement is factually false inasmuchas it does not reflect the truth. Since 2014, I have never given him any appointment to meet me,” Jaitley said.
He added: “However, since he was a member of the Rajya Sabha (RS) and he occasionally attended the House, he misused that privilege on one occasion while I was walking out of the House to go to my room.” .
“He paced up to catch up with me and while walking uttered a sentence that “I am making an offer of settlement”. Having been fully briefed about his earlier “bluff offers”, without allowing him to proceed with the conversation, I curtly told him “there was no point talking to me and he must make offers to his bankers,”’ the finance minister said.
“I did not even receive the papers that he was holding in his hand. Besides this one sentence exchange where he misused his privilege as an RS member, in order to further his commercial interest as a bank debtor, there is no question of my having ever given him an appointment to meet me,” Jaitley concluded.
However, Mallya’s comments had already created a political storm. The Congress party held a media briefing soon after, with spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi claiming the government was fully complicit in the flight of people such as Mallya, Nirav Modi, and Mehul Choksi from the country.
“Today we have a categorical assertion by Mallya in the UK about the number of times he met the finance minister to have some resolution of his dues with banks. The government should now explain how and why he was allowed to leave and what transpired at those meetings. The nation wants to know,” Singhvi said.
“Not only the finance minister, the entire Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) must come clean on its relations with Mallya,” tweeted senior BJP leader and former finance minister Yashwant Sinha. Meanwhile, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted: “Why did the finance minister hide this information till now?
Absolutely shocking. PM Modi meets Nirav Modi before he flees the country. FM meets Vijay Mallya before he flees India. What transpired in these meetings? People want to know.”