Mallyagate: Chidambaram blames Vajpayee government for bad loans

Mumbai/New Delhi, March 14 (IANS) Former finance minister P. Chidambaram on Monday passed the buck in the Vijay Mallya issue to the then NDA government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2002-03, saying “nobody accuses that prime minister of being behind the loans”.

Chidambaram was replying to a question at the launch of a book “Standing Guard – A Year in Opposition” written by him at a hotel in Mumbai.

“I don’t know the facts of the case, so I can’t comment. All I know is 20 banks lent him money. Did he have links with 20 banks, I don’t know. In 2002-03, Indian Express ran a series of articles called ‘The Great Indian Bank Robbery’. Please ask yourself a question who was the prime minister in 2002-03? Nobody accuses that PM of being behind the loans,” said Chidambaram.

“Therefore, if banks have lent wrongly to a person, banks are answerable. If he (Mallya) has received undeserved loans from 20 banks, the banks officials will be answerable to whoever is investigating the case. That’s the perfectly right thing to do,” he added.

Mallya left the country on March 2, days before a group of banks led by the State Bank of India moved the Supreme Court to restrain him from leaving India.

A consortium of 17 banks led by the State Bank of India wants the liquor baron to be arrested for not repaying about Rs.9,000 crore he had borrowed.

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