Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday stepped up his attack on Finance Minister Arun Jaitley accusing him of colluding with a “criminal” and not informing the probe agencies, despite having information about liquor baron Vijay Mallya’s plan to leave the country.

Gandhi’s attack has come a day after Mallya claimed that he met Jaitley before leaving India.

The fugitive business tycoon is wanted in India for his alleged role in a multi-crore bank loan fraud case.

Speaking at a press conference, Gandhi also trained his guns on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, asking, “Why did Jaitley allow Mallya to escape, or was it an order from the prime minister?”

“This is a clear-cut case of collusion. There is some deal between them. Finance Minister Jaitley must resign and this should be investigated,” he said.

He further went on say that Congress leader PL Puniya actually witnessed Jaitley meeting Mallya in 2016.

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“Arun Jaitley is lying, Congress leader PL Puniya witnessed his meeting with Vijay Mallya,” Rahul Gandhi said adding that, “It was a 15-20 minute, sit-down meeting…The finance minister has to explain to the country why he has colluded with the criminal and why was he having a meeting with a criminal, what was discussed?”

Jaitley, on the other hand, has rejected Vijay Mallya’s claim that he had met him in March 2016.

In a statement issued on Facebook, the Finance Minister said that Mallya’s statement is “factually false”.

Senior Congress leader P L Punia said on March 1, 2016, when he was in the Central Hall of Parliament, he had seen Jaitley and Mallya talking “discretely”.

“On March 3, we heard from the media that he (Mallya) fled the country on March 2. I have clearly stated about this in each of my interview with the media. There are CCTV cameras, we can all see that for proof. If I am wrong, I will resign from politics,” Punia said.

Gandhi wondered that when the “absconder” had informed the finance minister about leaving the country, why did he not notify it to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) or Enforcement Directorate (ED).

The Congress president accused Jaitley and the government of lying on the issue.

(With agency inputs)