While defending Finance Minister Arun Jaitley over the comments made by absconding defaulter Vijay Mallya, Union minister for Law, Ravi Shankar Prasad has lashed out at Congress President Rahul Gandhi and his party for questioning and accusing the BJP, especially Jaitley, for aiding the escape of the promoter of the now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines.
Mallya, accused of defrauding a consortium of Indian banks to the tune of over Rs 9,000 crore, stoked controversy when he claimed to have met Arun Jaitley on March 1, 2016, wherein he offered to settle his pending cases, days before he fled to the UK.
His comments sparked a war of words between the BJP and Congress. First was Jaitley, who quashed all such accusations and allegations, stating that his meeting with Mallya was for not more than a couple of seconds after he had been approached by the latter without warning in Parliament. In a remarkable u-turn, Mallya also corroborated with this version stating categorically that there had no formal meeting, just hours after first having made the claim. However, the Congress wasn't convinced, with party President Rahul Gandhi demanding a probe on Jaitley during which he should step down from the key portfolio.
After his Twitter salvo earlier in the day in support of Jaitley, fellow BJP leader and Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, speaking exclusively to Republic TV, put the blame on the Congress over the escape of Mallya, as well as the loans given to him. "Falsehood. Making a false statement has become a habit of Rahul Gandhi, though he is now the President of Congress party due to family reasons. But let me ask a straight question to him -- Why did the bank do a restructuring of the loan of Vijay Mallya in 2010? At whose behest was the RBI compelled to give direction to bank to restructure the loans? Here was a gentleman whose loan is rising and rising. That's the point number one," he said.
Ravi Shankar Prasad went on to add, "Since 1947 to to 2008, the bank loans in India were Rs 18 lakh crore. Under UPA government, the loans grew to Rs 52 lakh crore. At whose behest were these loans being distributed like anything? All I am saying is, there was a different kind of banking, where the people in power -- phone-banking. People in power used to push the case to give defaulter another loan to restructure. 99.9% or even 100% of the NPA's of the country came when they were in power."
On the topic of Congress leader PL Punia claiming he saw Jaitley speaking with Mallya and and the Finance Minister allegedly not informing the authorities about Mallya's plans to leave the country, the Law minister backed Jaitley and hinted at a conspiracy. "PL Punia has been set up by the Congress party," Prasad said.