A day after he said that it was “not right” to call fugitive businessman Vijay Mallya a “fraud”, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari on Friday claimed that his “statements have been taken out of context”. While speaking at an event in Mumbai yesterday, Gadkari had said that it was “not right” to call someone a “fraud” who had repaid loans for 40 years but defaulted once he entered the aviation sector and ran into problems.
“I had said that if Vijay Mallya has done any wrong and an investigation is underway on him, then the investigation is right and suitable,” the transport minister told news agency ANI today.
He added, “I had also said that his (Mallya) account was a prime account for 40 years. It went for a toss on the 41st year. Ups and downs are bound to happen in business. Both my statements have been taken out of context.”
Earlier this week, a London court had ordered Mallya’s extradition, in a major boost to the government’s efforts to bring back the fugitive businessman. Ahead of the extradition hearing, the 62-year-old former boss of the now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines had offered to repay the entire principal amount to banks.
At the Times Network-organised India Economic Conclave, Gadkari had said, “Mujhe Vijay Mallya se kuch lena-dena nahin hai… 40 saal jab Mallya regular payment kar raha tha, byaaj bhar raha tha, tab Mallya ka prime account tha… aur 40 saal ke baad, aviation mein jaane ke baad… woh bhi mujhe malum hai history poori… uske baad woh adchan mein aaya toh woh ekdum chor ho gaya?… jo 50 saal byaaj bharta hai woh theek hai, par ek baar woh default ho gaya… toh thurant sab fraud ho gaya? Yeh mansikta theek nahin hai.”
“(I have nothing to do with Vijay Mallya… Mallya’s was a prime account for 40 years when he repaid loans regularly. He entered the aviation sector, and ran into problems. So does that make him a thief? He defaulted once, and he turned to be a fraud? This mindset is not right.)”
Gadkari was referring to a loan from the Maharashtra government-owned entity Sicom to Mallya, extended 40 years ago, which he repaid on time without any default. Stating that ups and downs are part and parcel of any business, the Union Minister said that if someone goes through a downward cycle, then he or she has to be supported.
Gadkari had said: “Agar Nirav Modi ki baat hai, fraud hai, usko jail mein bhejna chahiye. Agar Mallyaji ne kuch fraud paper diye, galat kiya toh bhejo, koi problem nahin hai. Par jo aadmi adchan mein aata agar usko hum yahin thappa laga denge ki woh fraud hai, toh humari economy aage nahin jaayegi.”
“(As far as Nirav Modi is concerned, if he is a fraud, he should be sent to jail. If Mallyaji has given some fraud paper or done anything wrong, he should also be sent, there is no problem. But if we stamp every person who runs into problems as fraud, our economy will not go forward.)”