NEW DELHI: A day after fugitive businessman Vijay Mallya claimed that he met Finance Minister Arun Jaitley before leaving the country, the Bharatiya Janata Party has hinted at a Congress link behind the controversy.
Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Thursday questioned the timing of Mallya's comment which comes days after Rahul's visit to London. "It (Mallya's statement) comes after Rahul Gandhi's visit to London. Are Mallya and Rahul Gandhi working in tandem," Prasad asked.
He also said that the Congress is making an issue out of nothing. "Deliberate accosting by Mallya in corridors of Parliament and Jaitley rebuffing him to talk to banks for repayment of loans in just half sentence is sought to be made an issue by Congress," Prasad said.
"I can understand when the banking system is being made transparent and accountable, Congress has become uncomfortable. From 1947 to 2008 Rs 18 lakh Crore bank loans were disbursed, which increased to Rs.52 lakh crore by 2014 under UPA-II led by Congress," he added.
Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan also trained guns at the Congress for alleging links between Jaitley and Mallya. "Who used to go to parties in Goa? Who used to be his guests abroad? It should be found out. We won't let him go, as long as Narendra Modi is PM, however strong might the fugitive be, he'll be brought back," Pradhan said. Attacking Congress, he added that those who believe in Mallya should be questioned for their friendship with the businessman.
Shortly after Vijay Mallya claimed that he had met Jaitley before leaving India in 2014, the Finance Minister refuted the charges terming them as "factually false". ''The statement is factually false in as much as it does not reflect the truth. Since 2014, I've never given him any appointment to meet me and the question of his having met me does not arise," Jaitley said.
The FM also accused Mallya of ''misusing'' his stature as the Rajya Sabha MP. ''Vijay Mallya "misused" privilege of being Rajya Sabha MP to catch me in the corridors of Parliament on one occasion while he was walking out of the House to go to his room, '' the Finance Minister said.
The 62-year-old former Kingfisher Airline boss had said: "I left because I had a scheduled meeting in Geneva. I met the Finance Minister before I left, repeated my offer to settle with the banks. That is the truth."