Monday, 30th October 2017

E- paper

Gowda springs up in Mallya defence

Former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda today rose in support of liquor baron Vijay Mallya, who is facing a CBI probe for defaulting on Rs 9,000 crore in loans from several banks, describing him as a "son of Karnataka".

By Our Special Correspondent in Bangalore
  • Published 13.03.16
  •  

Bangalore, March 12: Former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda today rose in support of liquor baron Vijay Mallya, who is facing a CBI probe for defaulting on Rs 9,000 crore in loans from several banks, describing him as a "son of Karnataka".

At an impromptu news conference at his residence, Gowda said it was unfortunate that Mallya was being "hounded".

"He is an international businessman who needs to travel," he said, defending Mallya who suddenly left the country on March 2 and is believed to be in the UK.

Gowda's Janata Dal (Secular) had backed Mallya to send him to the Rajya Sabha in 2002 and 2010. In 2002, the JD(S) and Congress had elected Mallya to the upper House. In 2010, it was the JD(S) and the BJP that voted him. His term will end in June.

"He is not running away," said Gowda. "The Enforcement Directorate has issued a notice and he has responded." The former Prime Minister said he strongly felt Mallya would return to face the law.

Asked why he was supporting someone who owed crores in bank loans and unpaid salaries, Gowda said: "Every airline is in trouble these days. So why target a man who is a global businessman?"

Former Union minister Farooq Abdullah had also spoken out in support of his former colleague in the Rajya Sabha, describing Mallya as a "gentleman".

In a flurry of tweets, Mallya had said he was not an absconder and would face the law. "As an Indian MP I fully respect and will comply with the law of the land. Our judicial system is sound and respected. But no trial by media," he had tweeted from his verified handle @TheVijayMallya.

Mallya has not revealed his location nor said whether he would honour the Enforcement Directorate's summons to be present in Mumbai on March 18.