And you thought Acche Din would mean end of the VIP culture? Well, you were expecting too much in that case.
An Air India flight was delayed last week for about an hour and three passengers, including a child, were offloaded to accommodate union minister Kiren Rijiju and Jammu and Kashmir Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh.
The incident took place on June 24 on a flight from Leh to Delhi. Three passengers, said to be an Indian Air Force Officer and his family, were asked to leave the plane when Rijiju and Singh arrived after attending the “Sindhu Darshan” festival in the morning.
They both denied delaying the flight; instead, they say, Air India had rescheduled and advanced the flight at short notice. Singh has even alleged that “the pilot was rude and humiliated us.”
Rijiju, the Union Minister of state for home, has said he was “not aware” that three passengers were asked out of the plane for him. “If it was done, it is completely wrong and unacceptable,” he has told the Press Trust of India.
As the minister battled spiraling criticism, his office offered another clarification today. “Our administration arranged our tickets and we were never informed that to make our seats, three passengers have been deboarded. Had we been informed, we would have never appreciated this step of the administration,” his aide said.
The minister said he was to return to Delhi by helicopter but couldn’t due to bad weather. When they arrived at the airport, he said, “to our utter surprise we found the door was closed and the plane was about to take off.” The flight was to leave at 11.15 am but Air India “preponed” the flight to 10.20 and informed passengers only at 9.30 am, he claimed.
Rijiju said that after sometime, he and Singh were allowed to board the plane “and we could fly.”
Earlier this week, an Air India flight from Mumbai to New York, with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on board, was delayed by nearly an hour allegedly on account of a member of his entourage. Fadnavis has denied it.
NaMo, are you listening?