Liquor baron Vijay Mallya’s exit from India rocked Parliament Thursday with the Opposition and government trading charges over his departure. But the attendance record on the Rajya Sabha website shows that Mallya was present in the House on March 1, a day before he left the country.
Elected twice to the Upper House — first in 2002 and again in 2010 — Mallya is currently a member of the Consultative Committee for the Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Standing Committee on Commerce. He made it to the House a second time as an ‘independent’ candidate from Karnataka. His re-election had brought together the JD(S) and the BJP to keep the Congress out.
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B S Yeddyurappa was then the Karnataka Chief Minister. In the 224-member Karnataka assembly, the BJP had 116 members, Congress 74 and JD(S) 27. There were six independents while one seat was vacant.
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Once re-elected, Mallya brushed aside questions on “where” he got his votes from: “I am obviously very happy. I am privileged to serve my home state again. I served the state with best interests at heart during my last term. I actually published a book on the questions I raised in Parliament and circulated the book to MLAs. I believe in accountability. People have reposed their faith in me.”
Records show that in 2012, he even got a written reply from the Finance Minister on “loss making branches of banks and insurance companies”. These are some of the questions he raised:
* His first starred question — it gets an oral answer — to the Minister for Finance and Company Affairs was about “customs duties on imported foreign liquor”. This was on July 16, 2002. The same day, he had an unstarred question — it elicits a written reply — for the Minister for Commerce and Industry on “varying levies on liquor”. He had another unstarred question for the Ministry of Finance and Company Affairs on the “report on alcoholic beverages industry”. This was answered on August 6, 2002.
* On July 29, 2003, Mallya got a written response from the Civil Aviation Minister on the “evaluation procedure in aircraft purchase”. A question on the “management of airports” was replied to by the Civil Aviation Minister on December 16, 2003.
* On July 20, 2004, the Company Affairs minister replied to Mallya’s question on “revamping of Companies Act” while the Civil Aviation Minister responded to his question about the “new international airport” at Bengaluru. On December 7, 2004, there were two questions — one on the “upgradation of airports in Karnataka” and another on the “delay in expansion of Mangalore airport”.
* On August 24, 2011, Mallya had a question for the Defence Minister on “civil operations at naval airport at Karwar” and the next day, the Civil Aviation Minister replied to his question on the “status of Bidar and Karwar airports”.
* On May 8, 2012, Mallya received a written reply from the Finance Minister on “loss making branches of banks and insurance companies”.
* On August 27, 2013, the Civil Aviation Minister replied to his question on the “development of Bidar airport”. A question on December 16, 2014, again to the Civil Aviation Minister, was about the “expansion of runway at Mangalore airport in Karnataka”.
* The last time he raised questions was during the 2015 winter session. There was one on “proposal for construction of rural roads in Karnataka” (starred December 22), “status of proposal from Karnataka government” and “renewable energy proposals of Karnataka” (both unstarred, on December 21).