Within minutes of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley issuing a video statement denying that he had held a formal meeting with Vijay Mallya, Mallya, has committed a massive u-turn on his claim that he had met with the Finance Minister before departing India in March 2016.
Appearing outside the Westminster Magistrates' court in London following the end of his extradition hearing for the day, Mallya was asked about his claim, made just about three hours earlier at lunch-time.
On this occasion, Mallya, however, said that it was a controversy created by the media. He corroborated what Jaitley had said about Mallya having approached him without warning in Parliament, but clarified: "I didn't have any formal meeting with him"
Mallya's full statement, when asked to elaborate on his meeting with Arun Jaitley, went as follows:
''I am not going to talk about it. I am afraid this controversy has been created by my friends in the media. I happen to answer a question...The circumstances under which I flew out... I said that I happened to meet Mr Jaitley in the Parliament and I had told him that I was leaving for London and I want to settle with the banks and to re-facilitate discussions. I did not have any formal meetings scheduled with him. I met him in the Parliament and I have expressed to him my willingness to settle on many occasions. I don't understand what this controversy is all about''.
Mallya was further asked why he flew to London, to which he said:
'I have earlier told you as well. I flew to London as I had to leave for Geneva which was a long scheduled meeting''.
When Mallya was asked about the Finance Minister's response denying meeting him, he said:
''Nothing, I don't expect him to say anything''.
He was asked about whether he met any other party members of the BJP, Mallya said:
''I have met several members of several parties in Parliament to settle this issue''
Lastly, Mallya said:
''I am not going to answer any more such questions that facilitate any other controversies. This was a completely innocent statement made by me during lunch''
Shortly earlier, Arun Jaitley had said the following in a video statement and had also issued a blog post:
"I've seen the statement of Vijay Mallya where he claims to have met me with an offer of settlement. Nothing could be further from the truth. I have never given him an appointment, neither in my office, nor at my residence. Nor have I offered to meet him. I do remember on one occasion he misused his privilege as member of Rajya Sabha and while I was walking out of RS to my room he paced up towards me in the Parliament building and suggested he was going to make some offer of settlement. I didn't even bother to get any detail from him. I curtly told him that he must go make it to the bankers because I was fully aware that he had been bluffing on several occasions in the past and had no intention of paying back the bankers' money. Besides this one-sentence exchanged where he literally barged into me when I was walking and tried to make some offer or suggestion which I refused to entertain... there is no question of my having ever met him or spoken to him. I didn't even receive any paper from him at the time and therefore to convey an impression that he met me with an offer of settlement -- well if this is what he's referring to, then I'm sure this is not factually correct, he must come out with the correct facts."