TMC raises Mamata’s flight issue in Parl; DGCA to probe incident

RSTV Bureau
TMC member Derek O' Brien speaking in the Rajya Sabha on December 1, 2016

TMC member Derek O’ Brien speaking in the Rajya Sabha on December 1, 2016

A day after Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee’s private jet had to hover over Kolkata airport while it was low on fuel, the aviation regulator DGCA has ordered an inquiry into the incident after the matter was raised in both the Houses of Parliament.

TMC alleged conspiracy and threat to her life when they raised the issue in both the Houses. The party alleged that Banerjee’s flight was made to hover over Kolkata airport last evening for about half an hour despite the pilot reporting that the plane was low on fuel.

The DGCA ordered probe into three flights, including the one carrying West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

Alleging a threat to the life of Banerjee, who is at the forefront of anti-demonetisation campaign, TMC leader in Lok Sabha Sudip Bandopadhyay said the government should rise to the occasion and find out whethere there was a conspiracy.

Mallikarjun Kharge, leader of Congress in Lok Sabha, said that Banerjee has been travelling to various parts of the country protesting against government’s move to ban 500 and 1000 rupee notes causing hardships to common people.

“Is there more to this than meets the eye…this is not one off incident…. Today it is one Opposition leader, tomorrow it could be anyone else….I am not making any allegations but…this is more and more suspicious because this kind of ultra-authoritarianism is happening in many many spheres,” said TMC Derek O’Brien.

Leader of Opposition in the Upper House Ghulam Nabi Azad also voiced his opinion that it was a “very serious case” and demanded an inquiry.

Minister of State for civil aviation, Jayant Sinha finally explained to the House what had happened.

“We ensured that every flight lands in safety…At no point was anybody at any risk or danger, you should all know that because all the safety procedures were fully and appropriately followed and everybody was brought to ground safely,” said MoS for civil aviation Jayant Sinha while also assuring the House that a DGCA probe has been ordered on why three flights including Mamata Banerjee’s Indigo flight was low on fuel.

In the Lok Sabha, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said the DGCA report will be tabled in the House.

Kumar said life and safety of Banerjee was paramount and the incident was a matter of concern and security of Banerjee and other passengers is the responsibility of the government.

“It is incorrect to say that the flight was hovering over Kolkata for 30-40 minutes. The flight was hovering for only 13 minutes. The DGCA has ordered an inquiry how all the three flights were flying low fuel,” assured civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday evening Senior Trinamool Congress leader and state Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim cried conspiracy.

“The pilot sought permission for landing from the ATC as the plane was flying short on fuel but the ATC kept the flight on hold…This is nothing but a conspiracy to kill our chief minister as she has raised voice against demonetisation and is touring the country to organise a mass movement against the anti-people decision,” Hakim had alleged.

(With inputs from PTI)