'Transactions with Vijay Mallya were routine': Manmohan, Chidambaram respond to BJP's allegations

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and former Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Monday responded to the allegations made by BJP that they helped industrialist and liquor baron Vijay Mallya get huge loans for bailing out the now defunct Kingfisher Airlines.

In a press conference held by the Congress in New Delhi on the 'state of the economy', Manmohan said that the previous UPA government had done nothing against the law. "All prime ministers and other ministers in any government receive representations from various captains of industry which, in the normal course of things, are passed on to appropriate authorities," said Manmohan.

"What I had done was done with full satisfaction that we were not doing anything against the law. It was a normal, routine transaction. The letter that is being talked about is nothing else but an ordinary piece of letter," he added.

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. PTI

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. PTI

The letter, that Manmohan was talking about was the one that BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra had earlier referred to while making the allegations. "A bailout package was given to Kingfisher Airlines on Manmohan Singh's insistence...While an ordinary man goes through a lot of paper work and grilling to get a petty loan, Mallya procured loans worth Rs 9,000 crore without proper papers or proper accounts," Patra had earlier said.

Patra had also claimed that Mallya had written a letter to Chidambaram, asking him to ensure that the State Bank of India grants him a no-objection certificate (NOC), allowing his company United Spirits Limited (USL) to raise over Rs 2,000 crore through issue of shares on a preferential basis.

"The government receives hundreds of representations everyday, which are not dealt with by ministers. They are marked down to departments concerned who then take apporpriate action. You are looking at one letter that has been leaked. But what about other letters that are received by the ministries?" Chidambaram said when questioned about the allegations.

Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala made some counter-allegations when he asked his own questions for BJP. "They (BJP) are quoting a letter written to the former prime minister and finance minister. Who permitted Vijay Mallya to escape? Who waived Rs 1,200 crore of Vijay Mallya? Who permitted Vijay Mallya to become a Rajya Sabha member?"

Apart from responding to the allegations, the Congress leaders also criticised the government for the state of the economy.

"Tomorrow is the day when the government will present the economic survey. We thought we should bring out a document which gives a dose of realism. That the Indian economy is not in good shape is obvious. Even the IMF has projected that the growth rate will not be 7.6 percent but less than 6.6 precent. Several other rating agencies have made similar projections," Manmohan Singh said.

"The state of the economy is not something we can be happy about. The UPA delivered an average of 8.5 percent growth. Over a ten-year period, UPA delivered average grwoth of 7.5 percent. We lifted 140 million people out of poverty. These achievements are those which any government must try to emulate," said Chidambaram.

"They are hiding behind the dazzle of a numbder called GDP, which is being questioned on the basis that the base year has been changed," the former finance minister further said. "The people of India are not dazzled by that number. They are asking hard questions. The first question is: Where are the jobs? The second question is: Where are new capital investments? And the third question is about how are businesses are being encouraged to grow," he added.

"Gross fixed capital formation has declined. In the month of July, August and September, only 77,000 jobs were created in the country out of which 50,000 were in the government sector...Credit growth today at around 5 percent is the lowest in several decades," Chidambaram further said.

With inputs from IANS

Published Date: Jan 30, 2017 17:58 PM | Updated Date: Jan 30, 2017 17:58 PM

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