Mallya-Jaitley: Political Capital Out of Sidling UpThe Arun Jaitley-Vijay Mallya meeting issue has been blown out of proportion by a section of the press. If the fugitive entrepreneur was a member of parliament, he had access to the same pathways, halls and corridors which the finance minister had. If he catches up with the minister in one of these corridors and whispers something to him, does it qualify as a meeting? Obviously, it depends on what meaning one assigns to the word meeting. The dictionary says meeting means either an assembly of people for a particular purpose, especially for formal discussion or a situation when two or more people meet, by chance or arrangement.
By Linus Garg
In this case, what Vijay Mallya first said in London, he obviously tried to portray the first meaning that he had met the finance minister for a formal discussion, which obviously was not the case. Mallya himself admitted as much. In any case, whose word would you believe that of a fugitive and absconder or a government minister? Jaitley has confirmed that Mallya had sidled up to him in the corridors of parliament one day and said that he wanted to make an offer of settlement. Jaitley said he asked him to talk to his bankers.
But since Jaitley is a public figure, a minister and a lawyer to boot, he made a mistake by not making the chance meeting public. He should have issued a statement at that time saying that Mallya had tried to make such an offer. He should have realized that a person like Mallya would try to make political capital out of the chance meeting. But that mistake does not make Jaitley a colluder or helper. The biggest mistake the government made was in not getting a court order impounding Mallyas passport (as also that of Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and other high profile borrowers who are suspect) when it was known that he was in financial difficulty and might flee the country any day. The mistake is being compounded by not finding a way to bring him, and the others, to face trial in India.