Even as India’s law enforcement agencies try to bring him back from London, a notice from Vijay Mallya has popped up in the Railway Ministry — with a Parliament Question he wants to ask during the ongoing session.
The Rajya Sabha MP from Karnataka is keen to know about India’s proposed bullet train project between Ahmedabad and Mumbai. The question is tentatively scheduled for next week.
Mallya’s notice for a question, which arrived in Rail Bhawan on Tuesday, took officials by surprise, given the circumstances surrounding him. Earlier this month, the Ministry of External Affairs had suspended the diplomatic passport of Mallya, chairman of the now defunct Kingfisher Airlines, in connection with a money laundering probe in the over Rs 900-crore IDBI loan fraud case.
Questions from Mallya include how much the project will cost, who will fund it, what its feasibility is and when it will start.
As is the norm, railway officials started updating their files for latest information on the matter. Some also wondered if Mallya would make an appearance in Rajya Sabha next week, in case it turns out to be a starred question (which is orally asked by the MP and answered by the minister concerned).
“But why has he asked the question? He did not have to,” said one senior railway official.
Indeed, Mallya, whose term as an MP concludes at the end of June, did not have to ask anything — there is no rule that compels MPs to ask a question in Parliament.
But according to records, till last year’s winter session, Mallya had been quite proactive in asking questions in the House.
His last question before this, a starred one, was on December 22, 2015 to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on the proposal to construct rural roads in Karnataka. He had also obtained an assurance from the government on the matter.
The last time Mallya had asked a question to the Railways was on December 19, 2014. That, too, was a starred question on the establishment of a new railway division in Mangalore.
Notably, most of Mallya’s questions to the government have been related to matters in his home state, Karnataka. This is the first time he has asked about the high speed rail project, sources said.
In his six years as an MP, Mallya has asked Railway-related questions only a few times, and mostly on usual subjects like proposed lines, accidents at level crossings and pending projects — all related to Karnataka.
A ballot will now decide whether Mallya’s question is starred or unstarred. If it is starred, a call for Mallya to rise and ask the question will probably go unanswered in the House. The question could also be rejected, but sources said that is an unlikely scenario.