New Delhi: Union Minister of Law and Justice Ravi Shankar Prasad on Thursday suggested that Congress president Rahul Gandhi could be hands-in-glove with Vijay Mallya, who in turn alleged to have met Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley before fleeing the country in March 2016.
"These statements have been made just a few days after Rahul Gandhi returned from London. Is there any 'saanjhedaari' (collaboration) between the two (Rahul Gandhi and Vijay Mallya)," he questioned.
Speaking further about the ongoing controversy, Prasad said that Mallya's claim of meeting Jaitley before moving to London are all false and baseless. "The reality is, Mallya once while in Rajya Sabha tried to meet Jaitley in the corridors of the Parliament. Jaitley ji immediately rebuffed him to talk to banks for repayment of loans," Shankar added.
Prasad's remarks come close on the heels of fugitive Vijay Mallya's claims where he said, "I met the finance minister before I left, repeated my offer to settle with the banks... that's the truth," while speaking to reporters outside the London's Westminster Magistrates' Court. Mallya is sought by India for allegedly defrauding on bank loans to the tune of Rs 9,000 crore.
Mallya's claim has whipped up a political storm in India, with the Congress party accusing Jaitley of providing a safe passage to Mallya. "The Finance Minister has colluded in a criminal running away from the country," said the Congress president on Thursday.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) retaliated and said that Rahul, who himself is out on bail (in the National Herald case) should not question innocent people and that the party has enough evidence to prove senior Congress leaders' relations with Vijay Mallya.
"Rahul Gandhi travelled free in Kingfisher Airlines, which was once owned by Mallya," BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said.
"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," Patra alleged.