CBI could not have acted on its own to downgrade lookout circular, says Congress chief
Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Friday sought to blame Prime Minister Narendra Modi for fugitive businessman Vijay Mallya’s “great escape”. He alleged that Mr. Mallya’s departure from India was aided by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) which could not have acted without the Prime Minister’s approval.
“Mallya’s Great Escape was aided by the CBI quietly changing the ‘Detain’ notice for him, to ‘Inform’. The CBI reports directly to the PM. It is inconceivable that the CBI, in such a high profile, controversial case, would change a lookout notice without the approval of the PM,” Mr. Gandhi tweeted.
The allegations came a day after the Congress chief held a press conference where he accused Finance Minister Arun Jaitley of “colluding with a criminal running away from the country.”
Silence as admission
Congress communication in-charge Randeep Surjewala also asked if: “The silence of the Prime Minister and his Finance Minister meant an admission of guilt on the charges levelled against them.”
And in a fresh attack, the party also questioned why the Modi government didn’t allow the State Bank of India (SBI) — the lead bank in a consortium of 17 banks that funded the now defunct Kingfisher Airline (KFA) — to confiscate Mr Mallya’s passport despite a legal advice to do so.
“Consortium of Banks led by the SBI met Supreme Court senior advocate Dushyant Dave on Sunday, February 28, 2016, for advice on Mallya. Yesterday, Mr. Dave has gone on record to state that he advised the SBI management to move the Supreme Court the next very day and get the passport of Vijay Mallya confiscated. SBI and other banks never returned the next day for action against Vijay Mallya or for blocking his escape,” Mr. Surjewala said at a press briefing.
“Who in Modi government told the SBI and other banks to not move the Supreme Court on February 29, 2016 to block the escape of Vijay Mallya? Why did the banks never return on February 29, 2016 to adhere to the advice of Shri Dushyant Dave and get passport of Vijay Mallya confiscated?” he asked.
For the past three days, after Mr. Mallya claimed that he had met Mr. Jaitley before leaving India in March 2016, a bitter political war of words has broken out between the BJP and the Congress.
Denying any “pre-scheduled meeting” with Mr. Mallya, the Finance Minister on Wednesday had said the fugitive liquor baron had “misused his privilege of being a Rajya Sabha MP and caught up with him in the corridor of Parliament.”
A day later, on Thursday, Mr Gandhi held a press conference at the Congress headquarters to say that “the Finance Minister was lying”.
“What Arun Jaitley ji said yesterday —that Mallya met him briefly in the corridor and spoke two-three words — is a lie. We have Punia-ji here [Congress Rajya Sabha MP P. Punia] and he seen with his own eyes the meeting between Arun Jaitley-ji and Vijay Mallya in Parliament. It was a 15-20 minute long meeting and a sit-down meeting,” the Congress chief told reporters on Thursday with Mr. Punia by his side.
Mr. Punia dared the government to release the CCTV footage of the central hall of Parliament of March 1, 2016 and claimed that he would “quit politics and public life if proven wrong.”
The BJP hit back at the Congress by alleging that it was the UPA government that that offered a sweet heart deal to revive the then ailing Kingfisher Airlines. “Since 2010, when the Gandhi family had a complete hold over government decisions, the UPA bent every rule and banks with the help of Reserve Bank gave exemptions to KFA,’said Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal on Thursday.
Source: The Hindu