Rahul Gandhi should understand that going away of Ottavio Quattrocchi and Vijay Mallya is not the same. When CBI had alerted government about Quattrocchi, it was a criminal case and the then government did not stop him—Arun Jaitley
The government on Thursday said "every possible action will be taken" against beleaguered liquor baron Vijay Mallya.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday also countered Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi's allegation that the government has not acted against Mallya.
Jaitley said in the Lok Sabha during Zero Hour that Mallya, as of end of November 2015, owed about Rs 90 billion to the banks in the country.
He was responding to the issue raised by Congress floor leader Mallikarjun Kharge, who wanted to know why the government did not "confiscate" the passport of the chief of the now defunct Kingfisher Airlines.
The Congress leader wanted to know why the government and State Bank of India did not act against Mallya on time, which helped him to flee.
Jaitley said every member of the house shares the concern raised by Kharge, but said the sanction of money to Mallya was made during the UPA regime.
“The banks have started taking action against the companies to recover the debt. Certainly every possible action will be taken against all the defaulters,” Jaitley said in the Lok Sabha.
“Some cases were filed in different courts across the country and some counter-cases were also registered,” he added.
Jaitley also said that as of end of November 30, 2015, the total dues compounding with interest stands to the tune of over Rs 9,000 crore against Vijay Mallya’s companies.
"As far as accounts are concerned, first sanction was made by the consortium of banks in September 2004," he said, adding then again in 2008. "These dates speak for themselves," he said.
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Pratap Rudy said Mallya is "no saint" for the NDA regime.
Dissatisfied with Jaitley's reply over Mallya leaving the country, the Congress and the Left parties staged a walkout.
Countering Rahul Gandhi's allegation, Jaitley later told reporters: "Rahul Gandhi should understand that going away of Ottavio Quattrocchi and Vijay Mallya is not the same. When CBI had alerted government about Quattrocchi, it was a criminal case and the then government did not stop him."
Quattrocchi was an Italian businessman who was sought until 2009 in India for criminal charges of acting as a conduit for bribes in the Bofors scandal.
Jaitley said there is a legal procedure on impounding a passport and action could be taken only based on the provisions of the Passport Act.
"If Rahul Gandhi does not understand this, you can help him," Jaitley told the media.
On the actions the government will take in the Vijay Mallya case, the finance minister said: "According to me, let the banks take all steps to recover money. If somebody's action or inaction is found, the government will look into it."