Jaitley lying on Mallya meet says Rahul

Jaitley lying on Mallya meet says Rahul

Congress President Rahul Gandhi addresses a press conference regarding Vijay Mallya's allegations, in New Delhi, Thursday, Sept 13, 2018. Gandhi accused Arun Jaitley of lying on meeting with Vijay Mallya. (PTI Photo)

Stepping up attack on Arun Jaitley, Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Thursday accused the Finance Minister of “lying” about his chance encounter with fugitive businessman Vijay Mallya.

“This is an open and shut case…it is a clear-cut case of collusion. There is some deal between them. The Finance Minister must resign and the matter should be investigated,” Rahul told reporters at the AICC headquarters here.

At a press conference here, Rahul brought along Rajya Sabha member P L Punia who narrated how he had seen Jaitley and Mallya engrossed in a long discussion in the Central Hall of Parliament on March 1, 2016, days before the liquor baron fled to London leaving behind bank debts to the tune of Rs 9,000 crore.

“He (Jaitley) said he spoke only a few words to him (Mallya), which is a lie… It was a sit-down meeting… The Finance Minister has to explain to the country why he has colluded with a criminal and why was he having a meeting with a criminal and what was discussed,” the Congress President said.

Rahul also demanded to know whether it was Jaitley or “his boss” who had given directions to the CBI to dilute the lookout notice against Mallya from “block departure” to “report departure”.

“An absconder tells the Finance Minister he is leaving the country. Why did the FM not inform the CBI, ED or police? Another question is who converted an arrest notice into inform notice. Arun Jaitley needs to come clean whether he did this on his own or at the behest of the man at the very top,” the Congress President said.

This was Rahul’s second press conference within a fortnight. Earlier, he had targeted the Modi government on the Rafale deal.

After Mallya’s revelations in London about his meeting with Jaitley, the Finance Minister had issued a lengthy statement insisting that he was accosted by the liquor baron in the corridors of Parliament and that he had curtly told him off.

However, Punia countered saying he distinctly recalled the Jaitley-Mallya meeting in the Central Hall on March 1, 2016. “I witnessed the Finance Minister and Mallya talking in a corner. After 5-7 minutes, they sat on the bench and started talking... It is my challenge. You can look at CCTV footage and see if I am wrong. If I am wrong, I will resign,” Punia said.

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