Fact check: Did Congress leader really witness the ‘meeting’ between Jaitley and Mallya in 2016?

Amidst the renewed controversy over Vijay Mallya fleeing the country in 2016, Congress leader PL Punia made a sensational statement yesterday. He claimed that he had seen Vijay Mallya meeting Arun Jaitley at the central hall of the parliament on 1st March 2016, the ‘meeting’ which was already clarified by Jaitley and Mallya, both. He claimed that Mallya & Jaitley had an intimate discussion for 20-25 minutes. He claimed that CCTV footage will provide evidence to prove his claim.

To check the veracity of this claim, news Channel News18 has studied the schedule of finance minister for the day, and they have found that it was impossible for Jaitley to have a meeting with Mallya for 20-25 minutes in central hall of the parliament on that day, because he had a packed day and his whereabouts are in public domain. It was the day after the presenting the union budget at the parliament and the finance minister had a very busy day.

According to the channel, Arun Jaitley submitted some papers in the parliament between 11 AM and 11.45 AM. After that, he left parliament and went to Vigyan Bhawan, to attend 40th Civil Accounts Day organised by CAG. The then president Pranab Mukherjee was the chief guest in the event which was covered by Doordarshan and the video of the same is available online. The finance minister spent almost 2 hours at the event.

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One question related to finance ministry in Rajya Sabha answered by Jayant Sinha on 1 March 2016 question

On that day, Arun Jaitley did not attend the session at Parliament. The Rajya Sabha attendance record shows that he was not present at the session on 1st March 2016. All the questions asked to the finance ministry were answered by Minister of State Jayant Sinha, as per the record of questions available at Rajya Sabha website.

Moreover, had Mallya and Jaitley talked one to one for 20-25 minutes inside the Central Hall, this incident would have many witnesses. Not only MPs, even journalists who have covered a minimum number of parliament sessions are allowed entry in the central hall. The fact that nobody else has come forward to support Punia’s claim is important in this context.

Going by the evidence put forth, it is quite likely that the Congress leader PL Punia may not really have witnessed a ‘meeting’ between Jaitley and Mallya on 1st March, 2016.

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