DAYS after a UK court ordered the extradition of fugitive businessman Vijay Mallya, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari said Thursday 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.
Speaking at the Times Network-organised India Economic Conclave in Mumbai, Gadkari 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’s remarks came after the UK court order was welcomed here.
On December 10, following the Westminster court order, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley tweeted: “Great Day for India. No one who cheats India will go scot free… An offender benefited during the UPA. The NDA brings him to book.”
BJP president Amit Shah also took to Twitter and credited the Prime Minister for the extradition order. “Vijay Mallya’s extradition is a very significant development in India’s fight against corruption. The credit for this goes entirely to Prime Minister @narendramodi, who ensured that the agencies were unrelenting in their pursuit of the man who had bled Indian banks and fled,” Shah tweeted.
Textiles Minister Smriti Irani credited the Prime Minister and posted on Twitter: “Vijay Mallya’s extradition is yet another victory for PM @narendramodi ji’s untiring efforts towards combating corruption & undoing the wrongs of the past.”
On Thursday, 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 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.)”