New Delhi : Declared a proclaimed offender in a money laundering case and wanted in India, liquor baron Vijay Mallya was spotted at a book launch event at the London School of Economics this week that was attended by Indian High Commissioner Navtej Sarna, causing flutters back home. Writer Suhel Seth, whose book ‘Mantras for Success: India’s Greatest CEOs Tell You How to Win’ that he co-authored with Sunny Sen was launched at the event, clarified on Twitter that it was an ‘open invitation’ event and that anybody could attend.
He added that when the Indian High Commissioner realized that Mallya was present in the audience, he left before the question & answer session expressing displeasure. Also, after the book launch in a reception hosted by the High Commissioner, Mallya was neither invited nor did he attend, Suhel tweeted.
As television news channels showed pictures of Sarna and Mallya in the hall where the event was held, questions were raised over the presence of the High Commissioner at an event where a personality wanted by enforcement agencies in India was also present. While Suhel Seth contended that it was an open event at the LSE, where anyone could come because of the open invitation, Mallya was not invited to the High Commission reception nor was he present.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) also got into the act when it issued a statement, saying Sarna left the event without waiting for the interactive session after he spotted Mallya. The MEA said, “there were two clear segments — the book launch by UK Minister Jo Johnson and discussion at LSE and later a reception at the High Commission for select guests. “The list of invitations for the LSE event was determined by LSE. They have written to the High Commissioner that Mallya was not on their list. They have also said the event was advertised widely through social media and attendees were not required to register in advance. “Mallya was certainly not an invitee to the reception at the High Commission for which the invitations were issued by the High Commission, and was not present.”