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BJP says Manmohan Singh helped Vijay Mallya, ex-PM rejects charge

BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra showed letters purportedly written by Mallya to Singh in which he sought the then PM’s intervention for getting his loans cleared.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Updated: January 31, 2017 2:11 pm
Manmohan Singh, P Chidambaram, Vijay Mallya, bjp, bhartiya janta party, prime minister, manmohan singh, finance minister, indian express news Manmohan Singh and P Chidambaram in New Delhi on Monday. Anil Sharma

On the day former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh released a document on the state of Indian economy and claimed that it was in a bad shape, the BJP on Friday accused him and former Finance Minister P Chidambaram of helping businessman Vijay Mallya secure bank loans for sinking Kingfisher Airlines during the UPA’s tenure. Singh said that he had done nothing against the law of the land.

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A day ahead of the Budget Session, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra showed letters purportedly written by Mallya to Singh in which he sought the then PM’s intervention for getting his loans cleared. In one letter released by the BJP, Mallya ostensibly sought Singh’s intervention to get funds from banks released immediately. In another letter, Mallya said that he was very “relieved” and “pleased”, apparently referring to developments in the interim, according to Patra.

In his letter, Mallya also said that T K A Nair, the then principal secretary to PM, “immediately spoke to the concerned people in the ministry involved”, but added that Nair then went with the PM on an official trip to the US and “despite my follow up in his absence we have not received any relief thus far”.

Patra said: “The first loan was granted to Vijay Mallya in 2004 and then on February 7, 2008. Despite his companies declared NPA, restructuring of his loan was done on December 21, 2010. Even the Supreme Court had asked as to why the banks continued to lend money if they had managed to recover only one-tenth of what they had given…”

Trying to corner the Congress, he said: “How is it that a businessman like Vijay Mallya procured loans worth Rs 9,000 crore without proper paper work, without proper accounts? And how could he dupe a consortium of banks and the Government of India is a question which has been looming large.”

The Congress dismissed the allegation based on the “leaked” letters, saying it is “normal” for PMs and ministers to forward representations received through various industries and organisations to departments concerned for appropriate action. It also accused the BJP of allowing Mallya to flee the country.

Manmohan Singh, who spoke to the media at the AICC office, said that all PMs and ministers in government receive representations from various organisations and industry captains, which they pass to appropriate authorities in the normal course of things.

Calling it a “normal, routine transaction”, he said the letter being talked about is “an ordinary piece of paper”, a letter which any government in his position could have dealt with in a similar manner. He added that whatever he had done was “not against the law of the land”.

Patra also trained guns on Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi. “The hands which pulled the strings to ensure that Mallya received loans are visible now. They belonged to Chidambaram and Singh…Did the hands of 10 Janpath also pull the strings? Sonia and Rahul Gandhi should come out in public to say at whose behest the loans were sanctioned to Kingfisher Airlines,” he said.

The BJP also said that it was after Mallya’s letter to Singh on November 14, 2011 that the then PM told the media that “we have to find ways to get Kingfisher out of trouble”.

Patra cited another letter that the liquor baron purportedly wrote to Chidambaram in March 2013 to seek his intervention in getting an NOC from the SBI, which headed the consortium of banks that had given unrecovered loans to the airline and its subsidiaries. This was at a time when Mallya’s liquor company was in talks with Diageo for a deal.

Chidambaram said: “The letter does not concern Kingfisher, it concerns United Spirits Limited, which was and is a thriving, flourishing, profitable company. The letter does not talk about any loan, the letter talks about an NOC for a preferential allotment of shares. That is capital, equity, not loans.”

The former Finance Minister also said that the loans that are under investigation were given in 2009, when he was not the Finance Minister.

Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala questioned the BJP, saying, “Who waived

Rs 1,200 crore owed by Mallya to State Bank of India? Who is the helping hand for Mallya in the BJP? Did the BJP not vote for him to bring him to Rajya Sabha? Instead of levelling senseless allegations, BJP needs to answer why the Modi government has not sought Mallya’s deportation from UK.”

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  1. H P
    Jan 31, 2017 at 1:28 am
    The image of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as Mr clean is vanished.
    1. G
      George Cruz
      Jan 31, 2017 at 12:39 am
      The truth is that the EX. PM Manmohan Singh, Chidambaram, and the congress dynastic leader Sonia hi wheartedly supported Mally during the launch of King Fisher Airlines because it created many jobs across India and was a shot in the arm to the Indian economy. But of course, the congress leaders were also benefited from Mallya's business deals but now these congress leaders want to distance themselves from Mallya for their self interests.
      1. Jayananda Rao
        Jan 31, 2017 at 2:55 am
        Blaming Mr Mammohan Singh for Mallya imbroglio is baseless.Generally the industrialist approach the govt wherever the industry faces any problem and it is natural that the politicians will inform the concerned to look into the matter. Mr Singh or his secretary would have spoken to the Banks and also to the civil aviation ministry. This does not mean that Mr Singh is responsiblelt;br/gt;There are specific guidelines issued to the banks for clification of NPA and making finance to such borrowers.The account has become NPA as early as 2009 in one or more banks and the RBI and the banks have failed to nail the issue in time, claiming political interference. Then where is the professionalism of the banks and supervision of RBI. ?lt;br/gt;Coming to Mallya , the industry suffered partly on account of financial mid management and partly because of wrong policies of the govt.Both the govt and banks are responsible for the failure of the companylt;br/gt;Last but not the least, the employees are crying that their dues are not paid fact these employees were a pampered lot during the heyday of the company, paid many more times than any industry standards. So it is their choice of employment to be blamed rather than Mallyalt;br/gt;Even now both banks and govt can invite Mallya for a negotiated settlement and resolve the issue in a just and fair mannerlt;br/gt;As a banker for 40 years, I know the mentality of borrowers like Mallya and how to make settlement with such peoplelt;br/gt;The political blame game take us no where near the solution