After saying it was wrong to call absconding business tycoon Vijay Mallya ‘chor (thief)’, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari has clarified saying his comments were misconstrued.
Speaking to ANI, Gadkari said that he had never commented on the court proceedings against Mallya.
Mallya is facing extradition from the UK for alleged bank fraud and money laundering amounting to an estimated Rs 9,000 crore.
Gadkari had said on Thursday, that it was unfair to tag a “one-time loan defaulter Vijay Mallyaji” as a “chor” (thief), adding that the embattled businessman has a four-decade-long track record of timely debt servicing.
“40 saal Mallya regular payment kar raha tha, byaaj bhar raha tha. 40 saal baad jab wo aviation mein gaya....uske baad wo adchan mein aaya to woh ekdum chor ho gaya?...jo pachaas saal byaaj bharta hai wo theek hai, par ek baar wo default ho gaya...toh turant sab fraud ho gaya? Ye mansikta theek nahi hai. ((For 40 years Mallya was regularly paying interest on loans. After entering the aviation sector, he started facing problems, and suddenly he became a thief? If a person repays the interest for 50 years, and if he defaults once, then suddenly everything is fraud? This mindset is not correct),” Gadkari said at an economic summit organised by the Times Group.
Gadkari said the loan he was referring to was from the Maharashtra government-owned entity Sicom to Mallya, extended 40 years ago, which he repaid on time without any default.
Stating that ups and downs are part and parcel of any business, the road transport minister said if someone goes through a downward cycle, then he or she has to be supported.
“There are risks in the business, be it banking or insurance, there are ups and downs. But, if the mistakes are bona fide, because of global or internal factors in the economy like a recession, then that person who is facing difficulties must be given support,” the minister said.
Likening an election loss to a business failure, he recalled how he lost an election when he was all of 26, but underlined that the loss did not mean that his political career ended.
“If Nirav Modi or Vijay Mallyaji has committed (financial) fraud then send them to jail, but whoever comes in distress, and if we label them as fraudster then our economy will not progress,” he had said.
(With inputs from PTI)