Delhi: The fleeing of Vijay Mallya to London generated heat in Parliament on Thursday with Congress alleging "criminal conspiracy" saying the businessman was allowed to escape by the government.
On the other hand, the government hit back insisting that the loans were given to him during UPA rule and he is "no saint for us".
"There have been clear instructions that every possible action should be pursued" to recover the money from Mallya who owes Rs 9091 crore to a consortium of banks led by SBI as of November 2015, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told Lok Sabha.
As Congress alleged that Mallya escaped despite 'Look Out Notice" by the CBI, Jaitley said, "That day, there was no order of any agency to stop him (from leaving the country)".
He said Mallya had left the country before the banks moved the Supreme Court for seizure of his passport.
Jaitley also reminded Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi of Ottavio Quattrocchi's 'escape' after Congress leader targeted BJP-led NDA government over Vijay Mallya.
He said, "Rahul ji should know that there was difference in Mallya leaving the country and Quattrocchi leaving. When the Swiss authorities informed that Quattrocchi is one of the Bofors beneficiaries and CBI wrote to the government asking them to impound his (Quattrocchi) passport, the then government did not stop him and he left. That was a criminal case," he said, adding, "In this case, the banks had not started the procedure when he (Mallya) left. So, the banks should have started it earlier."
Trying to push the government on the backfoot, a combative Rahul today asked how it allowed liquor baron, who owes over Rs 9,000 crore to banks, to leave the country and said Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Jaitley have failed to answer this question in their speeches.
The Congress VP attacked the government saying the entire country is questioning why this government was "helping" people like Mallya by allowing him to escape and not fulfilling its promises made to people for bringing back black money and giving Rs 15 lakh into every person's bank account.
"When a poor man steals, he is beaten up and thrown into jail. Someone who does not have food to eat and steals a roti is beaten up and put behind bars and a big businessmen who steals Rs 9,000 crore from country, you allow him to escape in First Class from the country. What is this happening? "We simply asked that someone who stole Rs 9,000 crore from the country, how did he run away from the country. How did you allow him to escape? This is the simple question and we neither got a reply to this from Modi ji nor from Jaitley ji. The question is why did your government allow him to run away from the country," he told reporters outside Parliament.
(With Agency inputs)