Minister of State (MoS) for Civil Aviation, Jayant Sinha, on Thursday said that the previous government had made a “bhikhari (beggar)” out of Maharaja (logo of Air India) and the process of disinvestment initiated for Air India would reverse the same and help the airline regain its lost glory. He also said that the employees would be made stake-holders in the entire process, which will be better for their future.
Replying to a query on disinvestment of Air India in which the government plans to sell 76 per cent stake, Sinha, who was addressing a press conference at the state BJP office here, said, “UPA sarkar ne maharaja ko bhikhari bana diya..hum usi bhikhari ko phir se ek shaandaar maharaja banane jaa rahe hain (the UPA had made a beggar out of ‘Maharaja’…we are going to crown it as the maharaja once again).”
The minister said that the management control of Air India would go to the private entity, while employees would be able to own stakes in the new set up. “This will be better for their future,” he said. The process was likely to be completed by 2018-end. He also added that nearly half of the current debt of Air India would be transferred to the private entity, as part of disinvestment exercise.
Talking about safety and security of passengers, Sinha said that it was a paramount concern for the ministry. India was the only country to have grounded the VT engines, something that was not done in Europe, he said.
Sinha also criticised the Opposition for stalling the Parliament and said that people were feeling disappointed due to this strategy of the opposition. “One week is left in the Budget Session and we are ready for debates/ discussions on all issues. Besides, we need to carry out the legislative businesses; non-passage of bills is stalling development works. People are highly disappointed,” he said.
To a query about senior BJP leader and his father, Jaswant Sinha, and meeting Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday, Sinha said that questions related to the politics of his father should be put before him. “I am a worker of the party currently given the task to handle the Civil Aviation Department and Hazaribagh constituency. I am answerable on that,” he said, adding that counter-opinions were always welcome in a democracy. “We are two separate individuals. Why does it sound strange to you that there could be difference of opinions and views?” he asked.