Dare to govt: Show footage

A Congress MP and former IAS officer has dared the Centre to release parliamentary footage on the "one-sentence exchange" between Vijay Mallya and Arun Jaitley and vowed to quit politics if it is proved that the encounter did not stretch beyond a few words.

By Our Special Correspondent
  • Published 14.09.18
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Punia (top), Jaitley

New Delhi: A Congress MP and former IAS officer has dared the Centre to release parliamentary footage on the "one-sentence exchange" between Vijay Mallya and Arun Jaitley and vowed to quit politics if it is proved that the encounter did not stretch beyond a few words.

P.L. Punia, who was principal secretary to the Uttar Pradesh chief minister before he became a Rajya Sabha MP, said on Thursday that he saw the finance minister and the liquor baron, who was also an MP, together for 15-20 minutes in a corner of the Central Hall of Parliament a day before the industrialist fled the country.

"During that (Parliament) session, Mallya came only that day, to meet Jaitley. I challenge the government to release the video footage from the CCTV cameras of Parliament. If I am wrong, I will quit politics. Jaitley is lying," Punia told a media conference convened by Congress president Rahul Gandhi.

On Wednesday, after Mallya revealed the encounter, Jaitley had described it as a "one-sentence exchange". The minister had added that he did not allow Mallya to proceed with the conversation, "curtly" telling him "there was no point talking to me and he must make offers to his bankers".

At the media conference on Thursday, Rahul introduced Punia as a "witness". "It is a lie that it was a chance encounter for a few words. We have proof that they (Jaitley and Mallya) talked for 15-20 minutes. Our MP, P.L. Punia, was a witness," the Congress president said.

Punia took over: "I saw Mallya talking to Jaitley in a corner of the Central Hall (of Parliament) on March 1, 2016, a day before he fled. After talking for 5-7 minutes, they sat down to talk. I have mentioned this before the media several times in the last two years. Why was Jaitley silent for two years?"

Jaitley did not respond to the charges till Thursday night. But railway minister Piyush Goyal said: "Suddenly after two years, Puniaji has remembered the meeting. What was he doing? He is himself not sure whether they (Mallya and Jaitley) were sitting or standing."