Former prime minister HD Deve Gowda on Saturday tried to downplay the controversy surrounding business tycoon Vijay Mallya, describing him as a “son of soil” and said that “mistakes” happen in business.
Appearing to defend the beleagured liquor baron, Deve Gowda also said that mistakes happen in business.
“Vijay Mallya was born in Karnataka and is from a reputed family. Subsequently in business there may be some areas of mistakes and the matter has been subsequently discussed in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha,” Gowda told the media persons in Bengaluru.
“There was no reason to target an international businessman like Mallya,” he added.
The former PM also questioned why money was not being recovered from other big defaulters.
“There are 60 other major people who have defaulted and only Mallya’s case is hogging headlines in the media. Why? The media is bothered about Mallya because he is a Rajya Sabha member. Otherwise who is bothered about him and his case,” Gowda told PTI.
However, he said it was up to the government to take action against Mallya.
JDS’s backing had helped Mallya become a Rajya Sabha member for two terms from Karnataka in 2002 and 2010.
Asked whether it was right to say that Mallya has fled the country, Gowda said, “As per the tweets which he posted, he is willing to cooperate with various wings of the government and judiciary to solve the problem.”
“He (Mallya) is a son of the soil, he is not running away from the country,” he said.
Asked to comment on submissions by Mallya’s counsel in the Debt Recovery Tribunal that the business tycoon was a small fry compared to other bigger defaulters, he said, “Whether he is a small fry or not, he has to repay the debt to the banks. After all, it is people’s money.”
Questioned whether he was, in a way, supporting Mallya, Gowda said, “Why should I support and how can I support when the central government has already taken steps to take action against Mallya?”
Vijay Mallya owes a consortium of 17 public sector banks an amount close to Rs 9,000 crore. The Supreme Court had issued a notice to Mallya on a plea filed by the consortium, including State Bank of India, seeking to prevent him from leaving India and impounding his passport.
Mallya was, however, reported to be out of the country even before the notice was served, finance minister Arun Jaitley told the Rajya Sabha after the issue caused a stir during Thursday’s Question Hour.
Mallya’s escape from India came to light when attorney general, Mukul Rohatgi, appearing before the Supreme Court, on behalf of the PSU banks, said that investigative agencies have informed him that the former UB Group chairman has left the country.
Meanwhile, the CBI clarified on Thursday that it had issued a Look Out Circular (LOC) against Mallya in October but its mandate was not to prevent him from leaving the country.
In a series of tweets on Friday, Mallya said that he was not an absconder and was not fleeing from India adding that he firmly believes the law of the land.