30 January, New Delhi
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram on Monday rejected the BJP’s allegation that they had favoured industrialist Vijay Mallya in getting loans.
The two senior Congress leaders asserted that letters from the former liquor baron were only among the hundreds of letters routinely received by the then UPA government.
Citing several letters written by Mallya to both Manmohan and Chidambaram, Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Sambit Patra alleged that the two had helped the industrialist get huge loans for bailing out the now defunct Kingfisher Airlines.
Rejecting the allegation, the Congress instead pointed fingers at the BJP and the Narendra Modi government over waiver of loans to Mallya and his fleeing the country.
“All prime ministers and other ministers in any government, receive representations from various captains of industry which we in normal course, pass on to appropriate authority.
This is what I have done and done with full satisfaction that we were not doing anything which was against the law of the land,” Manmohan Singh told the media here.
“The letter(s) being talked about, is nothing else but an ordinary piece of letter which any government in my position would have dealt with. It was a routine transaction,” he said while reacting to Patra’s allegations.
Rebutting Patra’s claims that Manmohan Singh had asked his then Principal Secretary to “ensure help” to Mallya, Chidambaram said forwarding letters addressed to the Prime Minister’s Office or other ministries to the officer concerned was a routine affair.
“There is absolutely nothing if anybody says we want some forbearance, we want some policy changes.
“If a letter to PMO is marked down to the Principal Secretary which is then forwarded to the department concerned, it is normal,” said Chidambaram.
“Government, especially the PMO, or the Finance Minister’s office etc, receive hundreds of representations everyday. No minister can deal with these representations personally and they are marked down to the officer concerned who take appropriate follow up action.
“Please ask the present government whether they received representations at all in the last three years. If they say they haven’t received any representation, that will be serious reflection of the way this government is functioning,” added Chidambaram.
“The Congress wants to know who permitted Mallya to escape, who waived loans to him. We want to ask was it not the BJP which voted Mallya and brought him in the Rajya Sabha,” said Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala.