With Vijay Mallya’s remarks snowballing into a major political controversy, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi should order an independent probe into the matter and said that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley should step down from his post until the completion of the probe.
“Given Vijay Mallya’s extremely serious allegations in London today, the PM should immediately order an independent probe into the matter. Arun Jaitley should step down as Finance Minister while this probe is underway,” the Congress chief wrote on Twitter.
Earlier in the day, the embattled liquor baron made a sensational claim that he met the finance minister before leaving India and told him he’s going to London. Immediately, Jaitley made a sharp rebuttal and termed Mallya’s claim as “factually false”.
The 62-year-old former Kingfisher Airline boss, who is currently facing charges of fraud and money laundering to the tune of around Rs 9,000 crore in India, was asked by reporters if he was “tipped off” to leave the country. “I left because I had a scheduled meeting in Geneva. I met the finance minister before I left, repeated my offer to settle with the banks. That is the truth,” he responded. Mallya appeared before the Westminster Magistrates’ Court in the case regarding his extradition to India to face the trial on fraud and money laundering charges.
Arun Jaitley was the Finance Minister in 2016 when Mallya left India. Responding to the charges, Jaitley said the Mallya’s statement is “factually false in as much as it does not reflect truth.”
“Since 2014, I have never given him any appointment to meet me and the question of his having met me does not arise. However, since he was a Member of Rajya Sabha and he occasionally attended the House, he misused that privilege on one occasion while I was walking out of the House to go to my room. He paced up to catch up with me and while walking uttered a sentence that ”I am making an offer of settlement,” Jaitley said on his Facebook page.
Congress and other opposition parties latched onto Mallya’s statement to question the government about the circumstances in which the defaulter businessmen fled the country.