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BJP rejects Congress leader Punia’s charges against Jaitley-Mallya meeting

Persons aware of Arun Jaitley’s schedule for that day said the minister had a packed itinerary on March 1.

india Updated: Sep 14, 2018 23:21 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Vijay Mallaya,PL Punia,Arun Jaitley
Senior Congress leader PL Punia (R) speaks as party president Rahul Gandhi and senior leader Ashok Gehlot look on, during a press conference in New Delhi on September 13.(PTI Photo)

A day after Congress leader PL Punia claimed that Union finance minister Arun Jaitley met liquor baron and then member of Parliament Vijay Mallaya on March 1, 2016, a day before he fled the country, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) functionaries aware of the minister’s schedule refuted the claims, pointing out that the minister had a busy schedule on that day.

Persons aware of Jaitley’s schedule for the day, when the meeting is supposed to have taken place inside the Central Hall of Parliament, said the minister had a packed itinerary on March 1. According to one person aware of the developments, Jaitley’s itinerary on March 1 included attending the parliamentary board meeting starting at 9.30am, which was followed by a meeting in the Prime Minister’s room an hour later. The minister walked to the Rajya Sabha through the Central Hall, and was in the Upper House between from 10.55 am to 11.45 am; he left for his room then; at noon he left for Vigyan Bhawan where he was attending an official function where the then President Pranab Mukherjee was present. The minister did not return to Parliament that day.

After Mallya told reporters in London that he had met Jaitley in Parliament and offered to settle his unpaid loans before flying out, and the finance minister said there was no formal meeting but that Mallya had accosted him briefly in Parliament, Punia alleged that he had seen the two in conversation in the Central Hall of Parliament on March 1 and the two held an elaborate 15-20 minute meeting.

Punia demanded to see the CCTV footage of Central Hall.

The Congress, which has been demanding the resignation of Jaitley, however dismissed the BJP’s explanation, “(PL) Punia has stated that he saw Jaitley in conversation with Mallya in the Central Hall of Parliament. Punia even asked to go through the CCTV footage and also said he was ready to quit politics if proven wrong. Why is Jaitley silent on this? Neither the government nor Jaitley have been able to controvert it,” Congress party’s chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala told reporters.

First Published: Sep 14, 2018 23:21 IST