In an indirect attack on former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, former finance minister P Chidambaram came to the rescue of Congress Party over the Vijay Mallya episode and said it is the responsibility of the banks to recover money as they had lent loans of Rs 9000 crore to the liquor baron.
”I don?t know the facts of Mallya case. It is for the banks, which had given money to take appropriate action,” he said yesterday while launching his book Standing Guard ? A Year in Opposition.
P Chidambaram hinted that there were inaccuracies during the erstwhile NDA regime as well.
“Please remember, in 2002-03, The Indian Express ran a series of articles called the ‘Great Indian bank robbery’. Just jog your memory and ask yourself a question -- who was the PM? Nobody accuses the Prime Minister of being hand in glove,” Chidambaram said.
About Rs 9,000-crore loans to the near bankrupt Kingfisher Airlines (KFA) promoted by Mallya were granted during the decade-long tenure of the Congress-led UPA, where Chidambaram was at the helm of North Block for bulk of time.
Declining to make a specific comment on the case, saying he does not have the exact details, Chidambaram supported the ongoing probe against the bank officials.
“The banks that lent money to the person (Mallya), have to answer. Banks will be answerable if the gentleman has received undeserved loans from 20 banks,” he said, wondering if Mallya had links with all the lenders.
Mallya and his grounded airline and other group companies owe around Rs 9,000 crore to 17 banks.
On GST Bill, he said the same legislation drafted by him, was stalled by BJP for five years during the UPA rule.
On its present status, Chidambaram said, the bill isn’t stalled due to obstructionism of the Congress.
The Congress has raised three points of difference and the way forward, he said and conceded that the uniform taxation law will give a tremendous boost to the economy in the long run.
Stating that it is not the job of the Opposition to run Parliament, he said if the Opposition is not allowed to discuss a subject it finds important, it has to protest. Chidambaram also supported the Aadhar project and sought to negate concerns on privacy as “exaggerated”. He said all the countries in the world have some form of identification system and the Election Commission did a similar job on a smaller case, which did not see any question on privacy.
Recounting how as a minister he had come across a college in Maharashtra with 700 fake students getting scholarships every month, he said the Aadhar will help save money for the government.
He also spoke in favour of more money being given to states and greater independence being given to them to formulate their own schemes and policies. On Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s aggressive foreign policy, Chidamabaram underlined the need to assess the administration based on the outcome.