Congress chief Rahul Gandhi on Friday upped the ante in the ongoing Vijay Mallya controversy accusing the Prime Minister of playing a direct role in fugitive liquor baron’s escape from India. Congress president in a tweet said that CBI’s move to dilute the lookout circular (LOC), which was issued on October 16, 2015, from “detain” to “inform” was sanctioned by PM Modi.

“The CBI reports directly to the PM. It is inconceivable that the CBI, in such a high profile, controversial case, would change a lookout notice without the approval of the PM,” tweeted Rahul Gandhi.

Yesterday, reports emerged that CBI downgraded LOC issued against Mallya and asked the immigration authorities not to detain him back in 2015 citing lack of evidence against him.

After Vijay Mallya claimed that he had met Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to settle matters before leaving, Opposition has raised questions about the LOC and why he was allowed to leave.

The CBI said that LOC was put out on October 16, 2015, and was converted weeks later on November 24 into a report notice because it didn’t believe the tycoon being investigated for loan fraud and money laundering would flee the country.

The CBI says Mr Mallya was questioned on December 9, 10 and 11. There was no reason to believe he could escape, said officials, defending the diluted notice.

In the last 2 days, BJP and Congress have been at loggerheads over the other party’s proximity to Mallya. On Thursday, Congress leader PL Puniya had alleged that he had seen Mallya in conversation with FM Arun Jaitley, 2 days before the businessman flew out on March 2, 2016.

“It was a 15-20 minute, sit-down meeting,” said Rahul Gandh with PL Puniya challenging that anyone can look at CCTV and see if he was wrong.

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