Goyal demands Rahul’s resignation, seeks disclosure of his family’s nexus with Mallya
The BJP on Thursday defended Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley against allegation of “colluding” with liquor baron Vijay Mallya and asked Congress president Rahul Gandhi to resign and disclose his family’s proximity with the absconding tycoon.
Addressing a Press conference, Union Minister Piyush Goyal said Mallya is a criminal and his words could not be taken seriously.
The BJP leader, however, did not answer whether the Government would give CCTV footage for forensic examination to test the claim of the Congress that the said meeting between Jaitley and Mallya took place in the Central Hall of Parliament.
Goyal claimed that due to Rahul’s family “relations” with Mallya, banks were pressured by the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government to sanction loans to the fugitive businessman, violating all norms.
“Rahul Gandhi should answer what were the relations between his family and Mallya,” Goyal said, adding that the now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines was given loans bypassing all norms, laws and regulations. He said Rahul is an offender and his resignation will be forced by the people of India. However, it was not clear from what office Goyal wanted Rahul to step down.
Goyal ran a small clip of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in which the former PM is heard saying private airlines need to be helped to come out of the financial mess. Goyal alleged that the RBI was pressurised to arrange for a company-specific loan. The Minister said the Modi Government is in the process of recovering the money from Mallya and the Congress “is creating defence by telling lies.”
The BJP also pointed out that Manmohan had told his officials and gave it in writing to help Mallya, for which the liquor baron had thanked him profusely. Through the day, one after another several BJP leaders appeared on TV channels to attack Rahul and defend Jaitely. Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad insinuated that Rahul may have played a role in influencing Mallya to implicate Jaitley in his escape from the country. Prasad said Mallya made this claim only after Rahul visited London recently.
The BJP also alleged that both the Congress and the Gandhi family were close to the fugitive liquor baron. Party spokesperson Sambit Patra alleged that it appeared Rahul owned the now defunct Kingfisher Airline by proxy and there are “18 pages worth of evidence” about their links.
“Papers show that Kingfisher Airlines was not owned by Mallya but by the Gandhi parivar,” Patra said at a Press conference.
Patra read out from the documents to point out that the loans to the now defunct airline were restructured twice in 2008 and 2012. “That he and his mother Sonia Gandhi used to get free business upgrade (in Kingfisher flights) is something which is in the public domain,” Patra added.
Meanwhile, BJP leader Nirmala Sitharaman termed as “motivated” the Congress’ demand of Jaitley’s resignation, saying it is a strategy to deflect attention from the UPA Government’s “cronyism and favouritism”.
The Defence Minister told PTI that a brief conversation which Mallya had with Jaitley in a corridor of Parliament is being “played up” and asserted that responses to the issue have “reinforced” the fact it was not a conversation of any merit.
To a question about Congress MP PL Punia’s claim that he had seen Jaitley sitting with Mallya in Parliament’s Central Hall and there would be CCTV footage to corroborate it, Sitharaman shot back, asking if the footage would also have audio recording. “It already seems a very motivated allegation,” she said of the Congress’ charge against Jaitley.