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Mallya exit fuels political anger in India

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NEW DELHI (AP) India’s government has been accused of “criminal conspiracy” for allowing Formula One team boss and flamboyant businessman Vijay Mallya to leave the country while being pursued over massive debts.

Mallya, who is also a member of the upper house of India’s parliament, left India on March 2 and is thought to be in England, Attorney-General Mukul Rohtagi told the country’s top court this week.

The opposition Congress Party leader Ghulam Nabi Azad on Thursday accused the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi of “a criminal conspiracy in letting Mallya fly out of the country.”

India’s finance minister Arun Jaitley defended Mallya’s exit, saying the banks had not initiated the legal process to prevent him from leaving the country by the time he boarded a flight out of India.

Once hailed as an Indian version of Richard Branson for his investments in a brewing and liquor company, an airline and F1 team Force India, Mallya is now being chased by the banks, regulators and the judiciary for 90 billion rupees ($1.3 billion) he owes to lenders.

Even after India’s state-run State Bank of India declared him a “wilful defaulter”, Mallya hosted a big bash to celebrate his 60th birthday in the beach resort town of Goa last December. It was attended by more than 200 people, featuring a fireworks display and performance by Spanish pop star Enrique Iglesias.

His downfall was triggered by the failure of Kingfisher Airlines, which he launched in 2005. The Indian government in 2012 suspended the license of the airline after it failed to pay pilots and engineers for months.

Aviation experts put Kingfisher’s outstanding debt at $2.5 billion.

Mallya ceded management control of his flagship United Spirits Limited to global spirits company Diageo. It was Diageo’s agreement last month to pay $75 million in exchange for resigning as chairman of USL which prompted the latest legal push by competing creditors, who say they should have the first claim on that money.

Mallya is famous for his flashy lifestyle and lavish parties attended by fashion models, Bollywood movie stars and cricket players.

He owns other businesses in industries ranging from chemicals to information technology. He also owns the Royal Challengers, a team in the lucrative India Premier League cricket competition.

IndyCar entry lists for Harvest GP at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

IndyCar entry lists Indianapolis
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There are 25 drivers on the NTT IndyCar Series entry lists at Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course with a few new yet familiar faces for the Oct. 2-3 race weekend.

Four-time champion Sebastien Bourdais will make his season debut in the No. 14 Dallara-Chevrolet (shifting Dalton Kellett to the No. 41) with AJ Foyt Racing, which he is joining full time next season. James Hinchcliffe, who had run three races with Andretti Autosport, will return in place of Zach Veach in the No. 26 Dallara-Honda. Helio Castroneves will drive Arrow McLaren SP’s No. 7 Dallara-Chevy for Oliver Askew, who is out with concussion-like symptoms.

Sage Karam, who has two IndyCar starts this year at IMS (the road course on July 4 and the Indy 500 on Aug. 23), also will return to the series in Dreyer & Reinbold’s No. 24 Dallara-Chevrolet.

HARVEST GP ENTRY LISTS: Friday l Saturday

Friday and Saturday of the Harvest GP presented by GMR will mark the second and third races this season on Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. While the July 4 race on the circuit was 80 laps, Friday’s distance is 85 laps, and Saturday will be a 75-lap event.

Championship leader Scott Dixon led 26 of 80 laps to win the July 4 race at the IMS road course. With three races remaining in the series, the five-time series champion enters with a 72-point lead on Josef Newgarden.

Click here to see who’s on the IndyCar entry lists in Race 1 and in Race 2 for the Harvest GP presented by GMR at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.


START TIMES AND TV INFO FOR INDYCAR AT INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY ROAD COURSE (all times ET):

Thursday

IndyCar NTT Series practice: 2:25-3:40 p.m., NBC Sports Gold

IndyCar qualifying, Race 1: 6:20 p.m. (two groups/12 minutes apiece), NBC Sports Gold

Friday

—IndyCar Harvest Grand Prix, Race 1: 3:30 p.m. (green flag, 5 p.m.), USA Network, NBC Sports Gold

Saturday

—IndyCar qualifying: 10:20 a.m. (two groups/12 minutes apiece), NBC Sports Gold

—IndyCar Harvest Grand Prix, Race 2: 2:30 p.m (green flag, 2:31 p.m.)., NBC, NBC Sports Gold