UB Group chairman Vijay Mallya on Wednesday splurged Rs. 28.70 crore buying players at the Indian Premier League auction, on a day his shuttered airline Kingfisher Airlines, which hasn’t paid its employees salaries since August 2012, posted a third quarter loss of Rs. 822 crore.
Mallya, who controls Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), picked up all-rounder Yuvraj Singh for Rs. 14 crore, making him the most expensive buy on Day 1 of the auction. Overall, RCB has spent Rs. 58.2 crore on buying and retaining players this season.
Kingfisher owes Rs. 350 crore to it employees, who have tried everything from protest marches to indefinite fasts to force Mallya to clear their dues. Even the tax deducted at source from Kingfisher employees’ salaries wasn’t remitted to the income tax authorities.
Kingfisher, which Mallya promoted in 2005 as an 18th birthday gift for his son Siddharth, also owes banks, oil companies, aircraft lessors and others about Rs. 7,000 crore. The flamboyant UB Group chairman also owns a Formula One racing team, race horses, yachts and luxury properties around the world.
“RCB is a subsidiary of USL which has nothing to do with Kingfisher. Even though UBHL (Mallya’s holding company, through which he controls his businesses) had no obligation, it applied to court to pay KFA employees which permission was not given by the court. It is wholly incorrect to make a mischievous link between the IPL auction and KFA,” said KFA spokesperson Prakash Mirpuri.
“This is the height of crony capitalism. The government is a silent spectator even though TDS violation has taken place. If the judiciary does not intervene in favour of Kingfisher employees, it is a very sad reflection of denial of justice,” said aviation expert captain Mohan Ranganathan.