Government bailed out Air India, not Kingfisher: Mallya

Bengaluru, Jan 28 (IANS) The government had bailed out Air India but not Kingfisher Airlines (KFA), said beleaguered industrialist Vijay Mallya on Saturday.

“Government bailed out Air India, but did not bail out KFA. So much for favours,” recalled Mallya in a series of tweets, three days after the market watchdog SEBI barred him from trading in securities with six others.

The then UPA government had in April 2014 announced a Rs 30,000-crore bailout package for the loss-making state-run Air India till 2020 by way of capital infusion, hiving off its engineering services and ground handling business.

Incidentally, Kingfisher grounded its services across the country in October 2012 after the civil aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) suspended its flying licence.

The flamboyant 61-year-old Mallya, however, is reported to be in Britain in exile since he left India on March 2, 2016, after the consortium moved a tribunal in February 2016 to expedite the hearing on its recovery petition.

Claiming that his now defunct airline was the worst hit despite being the largest in the domestic sector then, Mallya said he had begged for help (from the government) not in terms of loans but policy changes such as giving goods status for (aviation turbine) fuel and flat rate of state sales tax instead of ad valorem on it.

“KFA collapsed with oil at $140/barrel and state sales tax on top of rupee devaluation. No FDI (Foreign Direct Investment). Engine failures. Economic depression. Need more,” Mallya asked.

Asserting that not one rupee was misused, the KFA chairman said he and his holding (UB) group had invested Rs 4,500 crore in the grounded airline.

“I was interrogated by the CBI and submitted documentary evidence,” noted Mallya.

Accusing the media, especially some English news channels, of “distorting facts for sensationalism”, Mallya told them to do due diligence and asked why CBI was not saying what UB had invested in KFA.

“Before slamming me on TimesNow, CNN News18 and NDTV, ask CBI and SEBI some tough questions on what proof or evidence they have to allege fraud,” dared Mallya.

Advising the news channels not to get carried away with one-sided allegations, Mallya told them to ask tough questions (to the concerned authorities) to justify their allegations.

“TV anchors in India have become vociferous public prosecutors influencing public opinion. I only hope that our esteemed judiciary rises above,” reiterated Mallya.

Defending Mallya, Biocon Chairperson Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw re-tweeted that most entrepreneurs were in denial when it came to business failures.

“KFA should have shut shop much earlier and Mallya would have avoided this mess,” said Shaw.