Vijay Mallya, the “King of Good Times” is as brazen as it gets. His airline Kingfisher Airlines is on the verge of insolvency, he hasn’t paid his staff their hard-earned salary for several months, his creditors are baying for his blood, his stock price is in the doldrums and his investors have lost all their wealth but that hasn’t stopped Vijay Mallya from indulging in his vanities. His latest: A Door plated with 2 kg Gold for a temple of Lord Subrahmanya (Kukke Subrahmanya). The cost: A whopping Rs. 80 lakhs.
However, Vijay Mallya made it clear that this donation was in lieu of Lord Subrahmanya taking care of all his financial problems. And if the Lord does keep his part of the bargain, Vijay Mallya has promised God a “reward” – another Gold Plated Door for the Temple!
At one level, one has to feel sorry for Vijay Mallya. He had such a good thing going. He was raking in billions from the liquor sales. And then he was bitten by the accursed aviation bug after seeing Richard Branson of Virgin Atlantic. He thought he could emulate him and started posing with bikini clad models in the Kingfisher calendar. And then he met the perpetually unlucky Capt. C. Y. Gopinath. Anything Capt. C. Y. Gopinath touches turns to dust. Ask Mukesh Ambani of Reliance who lost Rs. 100 crores thanks to Capt. C. Y. Gopinath. He palmed off his worthless Deccan Airways to Vijay Mallya. Together, Kingfisher and Deccan Airways became a millstone around Vijay Mallya’s neck squeezing liquidity without giving anything in return.
A sensible man would have learnt his lesson and laid low. But not Vijay Mallya. He thought his fortunes would change if he squandered away some more money and so he went and bought the god-forsaken IPL Cricket Team called Royal Bangalore Challengers. Whatever liquidity was remaining was sucked up by the IPL cricket team. Whatever money Vijay Mallya made out of the liquor business was snatched away by Kingfisher and Royal Bangalore Challengers.
But what is more worrying is that Vijay Mallya has become an “inspiration” for other businessmen as well and led to their ruin as well. The latest casualty is T. Venkattram Reddy, who was such a successful and sober businessman, who created the Deccan Chronicle empire. However, after he was bitten by the “Vijay Mallya Bug”, T. Venkattram Reddy was also obsessed with having his own “IPL Cricket Team” and splurged millions on the “Deccan Chargers”, a motley team of cricketers. Money which ought to have been spent on expansion plans for Deccan Chronicle was spent on having late night parties with celebrities to “celebrate” the purchase of the IPL team. To make matters worse, T. Venkattram Reddy even splurged money on an aviation company called Aviotech, a chartered flight service.
Well, the predictable happened. To tide over his liquidity problems, T. Venkattram Reddy allegedly committed fraud and forged share transfer documents, meant for pledging with the lenders. Now the police are hot on his heels and he is absconding. There is also an insolvency petition filed against Deccan Chronicle in the Andhra Pradesh High Court.
Anyway, to come back to Vijay Mallya, we do pray and hope that Kukke Subrahmanya will, at least for the sake of Kingfisher’s investors, “accept the deal” that Vijay Mallya has proposed and rescue him from his financial difficulties. However, for any such “rescue package”, there must be stiff conditions attached to prevent Vijay Mallya from recklessly squandering his wealth.