The Hush Post: The Congress has claimed one of its MPs had witnessed Finance Minister Arun Jaitley meeting Vijay Mallya in March 2016.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi said on Thursday that their party’s MP PL Puniya had seen the two meeting in the Central Hall of Parliament in March 2016, a report said.
“Arun Jaitley is lying, Congress leader PL Puniya witnessed his meeting with Vijay Mallya,” Rahul Gandhi said. The Congress claim came a day after Jaitley denied Mallya’s claim that he had met him before leaving for London.
“It was a 15-20 minute, sit-down meeting… The finance minister has to explain to the country why he has colluded with the criminal. And why was he having a meeting with a criminal, what was discussed?,” Gandhi said.
Rahul Gandhi gave the mic to Puniya, who said he saw Mallya and Jaitley speak in the Central Hall of parliament in March 2016. It was days before Mallya flew to London amid attempts to recover Rs. 9,000 crore in unpaid loans from him.
Congress MP PL Puniya claims he saw Mallya and Jaitley speak in the Central Hall of Parliament in March 2016
“I was in the central hall of Parliament House. I saw Jaitley and Mallya standing and talking in the corner. After 5-7 minutes, they sat on the bench and started talking. Mallya had come for the first time just to meet Jaitley,” Puniya said. “It is my challenge. You can look at CCTV footage and see if I am wrong. If I am wrong, I will resign,” Puniya said.
“After that on March 3 — he left for London on March 2 — my reaction was: he met Jaitley two days ago,” he said.
A 62-year-old liquor baron Mallya and former parliamentarian, is being investigated for fraud and money-laundering. In the UK for the last two years, Mallya is fighting India’s attempts to bring him back to face trial.
Mallya had told reporters on Wednesday outside a UK court: “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.”
But, Arun Jaitley denied his claims with a Facebook post: “Since 2014, I have never given him any appointment to meet me and the question of his having met me does not arise.”
“He misused that privilege (of being an MP) 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’…Having been fully briefed about his earlier ‘bluff offers’, without allowing him to proceed with the conversation, I curtly told him ‘there was no point talking to me and he must make offers to his bankers’,” Jaitley said.
“The finance minister talks to an absconder. He tells the minister I am going to London and the finance minister didn’t even tell the CBI or police. Why not,” Rahul Gandhi questioned.