Mumbai: Maharashtra Congress chief Ashok Chavan slammed Union minister Nitin Gadkari Friday for `defending’ businessman Vijay Mallya, and asked whether the fugitive industrialist will now be inducted into the BJP. Gadkari remarked Thursday that it was unfair to brand “one-time loan defaulter Vijay Mallyaji” as a “chor” (thief) as he had repaid his debts regularly for nearly forty years.

Chavan latched onto the senior BJP’s leader’s latest remark, as well his past statement. Last year Gadkari had said that in the BJP even criminals get reformed, the way Valya the robber turned into Valmiki, the author of the Ramayana. “This is an attempt to turn Mallya into Valmiki. Mallya was elected to the Rajya Sabha twice on BJP support,” said Chavan.

“Is Mallya now going to be inducted into the BJP?” the former chief minister asked. Chavan said Mallya had defaulted on loans of more than Rs 9,000 crore, and alleged that the BJP leaders were fully aware that he was planning to leave the country. “Changes were made to the look-out notice for him and the meeting Mallya had with (finance minister) Arun Jaitley before he left for London proves the government allowed him to get away. Now, after the uproar, the process of extradition has begun,” Chavan said.

Jaitley had denied that he had any conversation with Mallya regarding the cases against the former liquor baron. A London court earlier this week allowed Mallya’s extradition to India.

Chavan also hit out at Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis over the Supreme Court’s notice to him with regard to alleged non-declaration of two criminal cases in the election affidavit. This has proved that Fadnavis’ promise of transparency was hollow and he has no right to continue in his post, the Congress leader said.