India’s business tycoon, Vijay Mallya, on Sunday contradicted claims made by Suhel Seth and the Ministry of External Affairs confirming that he was indeed invited for the event, which had the Indian High Commissioner, Navtej Sarna one of the guests.
Taking to Twitter, the billionaire liquor baron said he was not a ‘gate crasher.’
He said, “Thank You. I am not a gate crasher and would never be one.”
@IndianExpress Thank You. I am not a gate crasher and would never be one.
— Vijay Mallya (@TheVijayMallya) June 18, 2016
In another tweet, Mallya said, “I went for my friend – the author. Sat quietly with my daughter and listened. Headline news and unfounded speculation followed.”
Mallya’s revelation will come as a huge embarrassment to the MEA, which had moved swiftly to claim that the former was not invited to the book launch of Seth.
Faced with considerable social media onslaught, Seth had tweeted, “It was an open@SAsiaLSE & advertised on Twitter. No specific invitations. Anyone could attend. Upon realising that @TheVijayMallya was in the audience as any other person, @NavtejSarna left before the Q&A expressing displeasure.”
Swati Chaturvedi, who broke the story of Mallya sharing the space with Sarna, said that the confirmation by the billionaire businessman had left Seth exposed and the MEA ought to have recalled Sarna without any delay.
She tweeted, “What did I say? He was invited by FM’s best buddy
@suhelseth the previous night when they partied together!”
— Swati Chaturvedi (@bainjal) June 19, 2016
There are also reports that it was a part of well designed plan by Seth to have Mallya and Sarna at the same public platform primarily to send a message to British authorities about the fugitive Indian billionaire enjoying the official patronage of the Indian government.
This development has left the BJP and the central government in the dock. PM Narendra Modi has been receiving flak from its rivals for allowing Mallya to flee India amidst allegations that he had defaulted on bank loans worth Rs 9,000 crores.
This episode will only give credence to what’s so far been only allegations.