Finance Minister Arun Jaitley raked up Ottavio Quattrocchi’s escape in the Bofors case to hit back at Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi for attacking the government over liquor baron Vijay Mallya’s escape from the country.
On Wednesday the Supreme Court served a notice to Rajya Sabha MP Vijay Mallya for leaving the country after defaulting on bank loans worth Rs 9,000 crores
Today the Congress accused the BJP- led government of “criminal consipracy” in allowing Mallya to fly out of the country.
“We asked Mr Jaitley to tell us how Mallya ran away from India. If there is action against him and a lookout notice has been issued against him, then what is he doing in Rajya Sabha,” said Gandhi.
In response Jaitley then raked up the Bofors case which happened during the tenure of Rajiv Gandhi.
Hitting back at Rahul Gandhi, Jaitley said,”But Rahul ji should remember that there is a basic difference in Mallya leaving (the country) and Quattrocchi going out (of India). And let me explain him the difference….When the officials of Switzerland informed that Quattrocchi was also among the beneficiaries of Bofors and though the person who was heading the CBI investigation earlier K Madhavan wrote a letter that his passport should be impounded, the then government had not stopped him and within two days he left India. That was a criminal case,” the Finance Minister while addressing the Cabinet briefing.
Earlier in the day, the matter was also raised by the Congress in the Rajya Sabha.
“My charge against this government is that when so many agencies were interrogating him (Mallya), why was he not arrested, why was his passport not confiscated,” Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said in Rajya Sabha.
“My allegation is that this government is party to this criminal conspiracy of allowing him to escape and leave the country. In this criminal conspiracy, this Government should be made party and the Supreme Court should take note of this…Without the participation and without the active support of this government, he could not have left the country. That is my allegation,” Azad said during the Zero Hour.
Countering Azad’s charges Jaitley said, “That day, there was no order of any agency to stop him (from leaving the country).”
He also noted that Mallya had left the country before the banks moved the Supreme Court for seizure of his passport. He also pointed out that the loans to Mallya were given during UPA rule and said mockingly that the Congress Vice President perhaps “could not understand” his answer.
“There is a legal process to stop anybody. Either your passport has been impounded or there is any court order. Except that immigration cannot stop you….Banks have gone to the Supreme Court to take an order and perhaps in the anticipation of that he (Mallya) left before,” Jaitley said when asked about Rahul Gandhi’s question as to how did the government allow Mallya to leave the country.
(With inputs from PTI)