While Rahul Gandhi accused Arun Jaitley of ‘colluding with a criminal’, BJP claimed that the UPA govt had given a ‘sweet deal’ to Kingfisher Airlines.
New Delhi: Stepping up his attack on Arun Jaitley for allegedly meeting Vijay Mallya before he fled to the UK, Congress president Rahul Gandhi today accused the finance minister of colluding with a “criminal” and not informing the probe agencies, despite having information about the liquor baron’s plan to leave the country.
Speaking at a press conference, Gandhi also trained his guns on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, asking, “Why did Jaitley allow Mallya to escape, or was it an order from the prime minister?”
“This is a clear-cut case of collusion. There is some deal between them. Finance Minister Jaitley must resign and this should be investigated,” he said.
Senior Congress leader P L Punia said on 1 March 2016, when he was in the Central Hall of Parliament, he had seen Jaitley and Mallya talking “discretely”.
“On 3 March, we heard from the media that he (Mallya) fled the country on 2 March. I have clearly stated about this in each of my interview with the media. There are CCTV cameras, we can all see that for proof. If I am wrong, I will resign from politics,” Punia said.
He added that the meeting between Jaitley and Mallya lasted for 15-20 minutes.
Gandhi wondered that when the “absconder” had informed the finance minister about leaving the country, why did he not notify it to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) or Enforcement Directorate (ED).
The Congress president accused Jaitley and the government of lying on the issue.
Meanwhile, in an all-out attack against the Congress, the BJP on Thursday alleged that the previous UPA government had given a “sweet deal” to the beleaguered Kingfisher Airlines to keep it afloat and suggested that the airline was perhaps owned by the Gandhi family.
Attacking Rahul Gandhi at a press meet, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national spokesperson Sambit Patra, showing a purported confessional statement of a hawala trader, alleged that the Congress chief had links with a shell company.
He claimed that Rahul Gandhi was on the backfoot in the case of Kingfisher Airlines and its promoter Vijay Mallya as well as the entire Gandhi family travelled on the airline and their travel was upgraded to business class for free.
“The entire Gandhi family was in fact helping Mallya and Kingfisher Airlines with the sweet deal,” Patra said, while showing a bunch of documents related to the loans given by banks to the airline.
“There is a series of letters between the RBI (Reserve Bank of India) and the SBI (State Bank of India). These letters show us how the previous dispensation under Sonia Gandhi was biased, partial and kept all norms and regulations at bay to give a sweet deal to Kingfisher Airlines,” he alleged.
The BJP leader was responding to Rahul Gandhi’s demand for a probe into Mallya’s claim that he had met Finance Minister Arun Jaitley before leaving India.
“Sometimes it seems the airline was not owned by Mallya, but by the Gandhi family in proxy,” Patra said, adding that Rahul Gandhi, who himself is out on bail (in the National Herald case), had no right to question others on corruption.
The war of words between the ruling BJP and the Congress was triggered after Mallya’s statement yesterday that he had met Jaitley before leaving for the UK. –PTI