A day after fugitive businessman Vijay Mallya threw a bombshell saying he met Finance Minister Arun Jaitley before leaving the country and offered to settle his dues with the Indian banks, Congress President Rahul Gandhi asked for Jaitley's resignation, saying "Mr Jaitley is lying; the government is lying". Before his hearing at the London's Westminster Magistrates' Court on Wednesday, Mallya had said that he "left (India) because I had a scheduled meeting in Geneva. I met the Finance Minister before I left, repeated my offer to settle (the dues) with the banks."
The Congress party has already launched a full-frontal attack against Jaitley and the Modi government, saying they helped him escape from India. The Finance Minister, however, was quick to respond saying his statement was "factually false". "The statement of Vijay Mallya that he met me & offered settlement is factually false in as much as it does not reflect the truth. Since 2014, I have never given him an appointment to meet me and the question of his having met me does not arise," he tweeted.
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 a RS Member to further his commercial interest as a bank debtor, there is no question of my having ever given him an appointment to meet me.- Arun Jaitley (@arunjaitley) September 12, 2018
The FM said since he was a Member of Rajya Sabha and he occasionally attended the House. "He misused that privilege on one occasion, having been fully briefed about his earlier "bluff offers", I curtly told him "there was no point talking to me and he must make offers to his bankers." However, the Congress President called it is a clear-cut case of collusion.
Other Congress leaders also called for Jaitley's resignation. "On 1st March 2016, when I was in Central Hall of Parliament House, I witnessed Arun Jaitley and Vijay Mallya talking discretely. On 3rd March, we heard from media that he fled the country on 2nd March 2016," said senior Congress leader PL Punia, adding he clearly talked about this in each of his interviews with media. "There are CCTV cameras, and we can all see that for proof. If I'm wrong I'll resign from politics," he said.
"Arun Jaitley is lying. I saw him having a prolonged meeting in Central Hall of Parliament about two days before he was allowed to escape from India. Choukidar is not only Bhagidar but also Gunahagar," he said.
Congress leader Sanjay Jha also said: "The question that no one is asking: there was a diluted but still a look-out CBI circular for Vijay Mallya at international airports. The CBI was to be informed. Why wasn't it? Under whose orders was Mallya allowed to escape? No way can the PMO escape this."
Rahul Gandhi has also accused the Modi government of changing the look-out notice issued for Mallya. "No one can do this other than CBI. They should clarify if they did this on their own or were orders given to CBI," asked Rahul. "This is a clear-cut case of collusion. There is some deal between them. FM Arun Jaitley must resign and this should be investigated," asked Rahul Gandhi.
Earlier, senior Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy tweeted that Mallya's look-out notice was diluted on October 24, 2015, from "Block" to "Report" departure, which helped him depart with 54 checked luggage items. However, Jaitley tweeted that he did not even receive the papers that he (Mallya) was holding in his hand. "Besides this one sentence exchange where he misused his privilege as an RS Member to further his commercial interest as a bank debtor, there is no question of my having ever given him an appointment to meet me," explained Jaitley.
(Edited by Manoj Sharma)