Congress’s charge exposed after Mallaya confirms no formal meetings with Arun Jaitley

“I met the Finance Minster before I left,” claimed fugitive liquor baron Vijay Mallya outside London’s Westminster Magistrates’ Court where his extradition case is being heard.

Congress on Wednesday said that fugitive liquor baron Vijay Mallya’s claimed meeting with the Finance Minister could not have been a “passing, casual, walking meeting” in Parliament. The party also accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of allowing Mallya, diamantaire Mehul Choksi and nephew Nirav Modi with “impunity”.

Senior Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi said, “Phrase used by Mallya today is that ‘he met FM’. But ‘met the FM’ does not suggest a passing, casual, walking meeting inside the House of Rajya Sabha. I think more categorical and detailed response must be had. Question remains how could he have left after everyone knew of debts and NPAs?”

Singhvi’s comments were in reaction to Mallya’s statement, claiming, “I met the Finance Minister before I left.” Mallya did not take the name of the Finance Minister. However, Mallya left India in March 2016 when Arun Jaitley was holding the post of Union Finance Minister.

“Congress has been repeatedly asserting for last over 18 months that not only Vijay Mallya but Nirav Modi, Choksi and many others have been allowed (to leave) with impunity,” Singhvi further said.

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday rebuffed the claims by fugitive liquor baron Vijay Mallya that “he met the Finance Minister before he left for London”.

Speaking to ANI on Mallya’s claim, Jaitley said, “I have seen the statement of Vijay Mallya where he claims to have met me with an offer of settlement. Nothing could be further from truth. I never gave him (Mallya) an appointment, never at my office, never at my residence. Nor I was ever offered to meet him.”

Recalling the only one instance from the past, Jaitley said, “I do remember on one occasion, he misused his privileges of Member of Rajya Sabha and while I was walking from the Rajya Sabha to my room and (he) suggested that he was going to make some offer of settlement. I did not even bother to get details from him. I curtly told him that he must go and make it to the bankers because I was fully aware that he had no intentions to pay back the bankers money. He tried to make some offer or a suggestion which I refused to entertain. There is no question of my ever met him or spoken to him. I did not even receive any paper from him at that time and therefore to convey the impression that he met me with an offer of settlement. Well! If this is what he is referring to then I am sure this is factually not correct, he must come out with facts.”

“I happened to meet Mr. Jaitley in Parliament and told him that I am leaving for London… I did not have any formal meetings scheduled with him,” Mallaya confirmed. He also said that he had met Jaitley several times and expressed his willingness to settle the bank loans.

“Happened to meet Mr. Jaitley in the Parliament and I told him. I want to settle with the banks and would he please facilitate discussions. I have met him on several occasions and expressed to him my willingness to settle with the banks on many other occasions,” he added.

Jaitley, however, denied Mallya’s claim and said that he never gave any appointment to the latter since 2014.

London’s Westminster Magistrates’ Court will pronounce the verdict in the extradition case of liquor baron Vijay Mallya on December 10. India wants to extradite Mallya, an alleged financial offender, from the United Kingdom to face charges of money laundering and bank fraud, amounting to Rs. 9,000 crore.