Mallya-Jaitley row: BJP hits back at Congress

New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Thursday launched an all-out attack on the Congress party, alleging that they gave loans to fugitive liquor baron Vijay Mallya and his now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines by violating the norms during their tenure.

Addressing a presser here, Union Railways Minister Piyush Goyal said, “The Gandhi family gave special privileges to Vijay Mallya. Since 2010, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) has violated all norms for Vijay Mallya and Kingfisher Airlines. The UPA government treated Kingfisher Airlines with leniency. Kingfisher was also given various loans.”

He recalled former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s remarks where he allegedly said that a private airline like Kingfisher had to be saved from a debt crisis.

“Every help was extended to Kingfisher by UPA government to overcome its debt. Kingfisher was given loans many times during their rule. Why did RBI relax all norms for Vijay Mallya? Rahul Gandhi needs to answer this. The family and party which looted the nation is creating a defence, based on lies to cover up their sins. This shows the propensity to which the Congress can lie to cover up their sins,” Goyal added.

Demanding resignation of Congress president Rahul Gandhi for allegedly helping Mallya, Goyal said, “Rahul Gandhi should explain that what links his family and party had with Vijay Mallya that he was given loans by violating the norms. Rahul Gandhi must clarify why loans were given to Kingfisher Airlines and he should resign because of all the financial frauds he is involved in.”

Alleging that there was a special “jugalbandi” (bond) between Rahul and Mallya, Goyal said, “Has this government ever done any favours for Vijay Mallya? The Congress is just resorting to lies.”

Earlier in the day, Rahul Gandhi accused Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley of providing Mallya a “free passage” to “run away” from India.

“The government is lying on Vijay Mallya. He was given a free passage out of the country by the Finance Minister,” Gandhi said while addressing media here, adding, “the Finance Minister has colluded in a criminal running away from the country.”

His remarks came a day after Mallya claimed that he met Jaitley before leaving the country in March 2016. “I met the Finance Minister before I left,” the liquor baron said on Wednesday outside Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London, where his extradition case is being heard.