Vijay Mallya: The King of Political Fishing


None of the journalists waiting outside the Westminster Magistrates Court in London were expecting Vijay Mallya to make such a claim. Neither the political establishment in India would have thought Mallya giving something as huge as this on a platter. But, it happened and happened in a classic treat and retreat style.

What did Mallya say?

The first round of the hearing started at 10:15 BST and continued till 1 PM with the defendant providing documents as proof against the charges brought by the CBI. During the lunch break, Mr. Mallya came out to chomp his golden cigar and with smoke what also came from his mouth was nothing short of revelation.

When asked whether he was being made a scapegoat, he said: "Yes, I am being framed. I met Arun Jaitley and told him that I was going to London. I also told him that I wanted to settle with banks".

The statement, as expected, precipitated turmoil with every journalist conveying their base about the breaking news. After round two of the hearing, the embattled liquor baron walked out of the court building to face further questions on the issue. This time he appeared dejected with the media – the same media to which he was happy to share his victimization.

Accusing media of distorting his statements he said, "It was an innocent statement out of which the friends of media created a controversy for their benefits. I haven't said anything against Mr. Arun Jaitley and I did not have any formal meeting with him".

The duration between his confession/revelation and his attempt of condemnation/salvation was nearly two hours. By the time this 'king of good times' clarified, his statement spread like a wildfire and the heat of its repercussion could be felt nearly 6000 miles away from London – in India.

What happened inside the court?

The hearing started with the defendant challenging the charges against Mallya. One of the allegations against the business tycoon is of providing false information to obtain loan. The defense barrister, Clare Montgomery challenged the accusation by providing a series of emails to prove that the bank officials were aware of the financial condition of Kingfisher.

"The trail of emails shows that two bank officials were aware of company's performance and there was response which discussed the increasing loss of the company. Therefore the suggestion that there was a secret pocket of knowledge regarding Kingfisher's loss is unfounded" argued Ms. Montgomery.

She accused the government of India of "advancing a bizarre case" because "Kingfisher was a pretty good airline" and "loan taken was ordinary commercial loan for ordinary purpose.

The prosecution questioned the intentions of Mr. Mallya and claimed that he did not want to pay back the money.

"The loan application said that the money was required for the airline company and to pay the creditors but instead of utilizing the money there, Mr. Mallya chose to use it for other purposes like spending on corporate jets" argued the lawyer for the government of India.

What's next?

The next hearing for this high profile case is on 10th December when the court would give its verdict. After hearing both sides, the judge said that "there was a lot to go through" and the court would decide whether there was a prima facie case for extradition. On the other hand, in India the matter is not likely to calm down as the opposition parties have launched a tirade against both Mr. Jaitley and the government, demanding his resignation until he comes clean. It is also important because of the tough image of Prime Minister Modi on corruption.

The case around which Vijay Mallya's fate is hanging, has taken a complete turn with Mallya bullet striking the government where it might hurt the most. The man with a fugitive tag is back, at least in the political space. The Kingfisher boss has turned out to be the King of political fishing.

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