In air and on ground, Mamata Banerjee & her party see a plot against her

Earlier, Banerjee had told The Indian Express that the Army deployment was in “clear violation of the Constitution” and a bid to “create a civil war like situation in the country”.

Written by Aniruddha Ghosal , SWEETY KUMARI | Kolkata | Updated: December 2, 2016 1:54 pm
mamata banerjee, army, indian army, army leave bengal, army lockdown in west bengal, bengal army, mamata, west bengal, west bengal chief minister, west bengal CM MAmata Banerjee, Mamata Banerjee flight, Kolkata airport, Kolkata roadways, Kolkata NH 2, Ashok Gajapati Raju, West bengal government, DGCA, TMC, West bengal news, india news, indian express news Army personnel on Vidyasagar Setu near Nabanna, the CM’s office on Thursday. They withdrew late at night. Express photo

A storm erupted Thursday after the Trinamool Congress alleged “a conspiracy to eliminate” its leader Mamata Banerjee who was on an IndiGo flight that was made to hover over Kolkata “despite being low on fuel” the previous night. The Chief Minister sparked another row when she questioned the Centre on the presence of Army personnel at toll plazas in “various parts of the state”, including one near state secretariat Nabanna.

The Army said it was conducting an “annual exercise… as per government orders” and there was “nothing alarming”. Around midnight, it withdrew, saying data had been gathered.

WATCH VIDEO: Here’s Why West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee & Her Party See Conspiracy Against Her

Earlier, Banerjee had told The Indian Express that the Army deployment was in “clear violation of the Constitution” and a bid to “create a civil war like situation in the country”. She decided to spend the night at the secretariat: “This is very unfortunate that the Army is present outside Nabanna despite police objection. I am staying here, guarding our democracy.”

There were clarifications from IndiGo and the Army on the two incidents. The airline said the air traffic controller “misunderstood” that the plane carrying Banerjee was low on fuel after the pilot radioed that the aircraft had eight minutes of extra holding fuel over Kolkata.

But the Trinamool Congress remained unconvinced. The party raised the matter in Parliament and shot off a letter to Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju. Regulator DGCA stepped in, ordering an inquiry into the incident of three flights, including the IndiGo flight carrying Banerjee, reporting low fuel at the same time.

The government too rejected the Trinamool Congress allegations, saying around the time the IndiGo flight reported being low on fuel, two other flights — of Air India and SpiceJet — had also called in with the same problem.

Around 8 pm Wednesday, the pilot of IndiGo flight 6E 342 told passengers that the flight would land “15 minutes late” due to air traffic congestion. Forty minutes later when the aircraft landed in Kolkata, it was immediately surrounded by ambulances, fire engines and police.

Banerjee made no comment but state Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim told reporters: “There was serious inconvenience to the CM and other passengers. The pilot sought permission for landing from the ATC as the plane was low on fuel, but the ATC kept the flight on hold. This was a conspiracy to eliminate Mamata Banerjee. She is not afraid of dying. But she was concerned about the lives of other passengers.”

Atul Dixit, Director of Kolkata airport, told The Indian Express: “The flight was short on fuel for holding. While holding time was 13 minutes, the flight had fuel for 8 minutes. But additional fuel for diversion to nearest destination was available in the aircraft. Laid down procedures were followed and it was a safe landing.”

In a statement, IndiGo said its flight 6E 342 from Patna made a normal landing at Kolkata airport. “The flight was kept on hold for landing due to air traffic congestion at Kolkata. The pilot operating 6E-342 had advised the ATC that he has 8 mins of extra holding fuel over Kolkata (destination) before commencing diversion to the planned alternate. However, this information was misunderstood by the Air Traffic Controller who assumed that the aircraft had only 8 mins of total fuel left.”

“The misinterpretation of the information by ATC controller led ATC to instruct fire engines and ambulances to be stationed at Kolkata airport. We would like to clarify — IndiGo Captain at no stage declared a fuel priority or an emergency. Subsequently, the airplane made a normal landing at Kolkata airport at 8.40 pm (delayed by an hour due to congestion). The fuel on arrival was more than the minimum diversion fuel. There has been no violation or breach of any regulatory requirement… IndiGo has responded to the queries made by the regulator. At IndiGo, safety of passengers, crew and the aircraft is the utmost priority and at no stage it can be compromised,” the airline said.

In New Delhi, Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju told Lok Sabha that neither the IndiGo flight nor the Air India flight ahead and the SpiceJet flight behind it had asked for priority landing and all three flights were allowed to land in the normal landing sequence. “The IndiGo flight had to hover for 13 minutes only and landed at 8.40 pm. It is incorrect to say that the flight was made to hover for 30-40 minutes,” he said.

Raju said the DGCA had ordered an inquiry into why these three flights reported low fuel and whether they carried sufficient fuel as per regulatory requirements prescribed by DGCA. He said any aircraft which takes off from one airport must carry enough fuel to reach its destination, hover for 30 minutes, and reach the notified alternate airport which, in this case, was Bhubaneswar airport.

Members from the Trinamool Congress and Congress alleged a conspiracy, linking it to Banerjee’s stiff opposition to the demonetisation move. In Rajya Sabha, Trinamool Congress member Derek O’Brien sought to know why the aircraft was made to hover over Kolkata even though the pilot had informed the ATC about the problem. “Is there more to this than meets the eye… Is it a coincidence that this Opposition leader today is at the forefront,” O’Brien said.

In Kolkata, after Army personnel were spotted at toll plazas, Banerjee attacked the Centre. “This is a clear violation of the rules and understanding, the Army has been deployed without informing the democratically-elected government. This is very bad. The Army has come all the way to the Kona Expressway toll plaza near the state secretariat as well. The central government is trying to create a civil war like situation in the country. This is against the Constitution.”

“Even if the Army is conducting a mock drill, it has to coordinate with the state. This is not done. Is this Emergency?” Banerjee said. Derek O’Brien tweeted a video that showed Army personnel at a toll plaza and asked whether “Besides Financial Emergency”, the Centre had “also imposed General Emergency”

The Army, in a statement, said it was at the Bengal toll plazas as part of an exercise to “gather statistical data about load carriers that could be made available to the Army in case of a contingency.” The statement said, “For this purpose, vehicles are spotted to get basic parameters like make load capacity etc. The vehicle is then marked so that the next checkpoint knows that the vehicle had already been checked for the parameters. There is nothing alarming about this and it is carried out as per government orders.”

The Defence spokesperson in Kolkata said: “This is an annual exercise which is conducted by the Army. The representatives of the District Magistrate and the local police accompany the Army personnel. The current exercise was held after a meeting with representatives of the DM and local police officials at the HQ Bengal Area.”

For all the latest India News, download Indian Express App now

  1. A
    Ajoy Ghosh
    Dec 2, 2016 at 4:21 am
    Aboki Baro Didi Sharkar. Long Live Mamata Banerjee. Modi has Failed so he is desperate to commit suicie in Bengal. But Bangala People and India People Don't need him any more.
    Reply
    1. A
      Ajoy Ghosh
      Dec 2, 2016 at 4:16 am
      Feku seems to be inspired by Gaddafi and Saddam so blindly following their style of rule. We hope he too meets similar end sooner or later.
      Reply
      1. B
        BadPoet
        Dec 2, 2016 at 7:20 pm
        In the land of Tagore and Bose..lt;br/gt;There was a madam called ba_narji. lt;br/gt;She huffed and she puffed. lt;br/gt;She ranted and raved. lt;br/gt;She made her money from chits like Sharda. lt;br/gt;She lost it all with the note bandi.lt;br/gt;She colored her credibility in Indigo.lt;br/gt;She lost her nerve at any toll plaza.lt;br/gt;She hid in her office for 7 days.lt;br/gt;She then whimpered and cried.lt;br/gt;That she had never met a chiawala.lt;br/gt;Who was as mighty as the Armylt;br/gt;With the people-force - no not the air-force.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Away she went kicking and screaming.lt;br/gt;No one cared - everyone was relieved.
        Reply
        1. D
          David
          Dec 2, 2016 at 4:40 am
          Feku now Fearing a woman. Modi is destroying India. Sab ka Saath sab ka VINASH
          Reply
          1. M
            ModiBhagao
            Dec 2, 2016 at 4:10 am
            Thus modi criminal is a war monger and dictator like Hitler
            Reply
            1. G
              Gopi Chand
              Dec 2, 2016 at 3:10 am
              Can any Bengali who voted for this crazy lady tell what quality they have seen in her that deserve there vote ?
              Reply
              1. S
                Sundar
                Dec 2, 2016 at 4:05 am
                This lady has become mad and gone to the height of frustration. She is the Ring Leader of the famous Sharadha Chit Fund fraud. She says she is for poor people; what a great joke it is. She lost her balance and everyone is leaving her company due to her extreme behavior. She has not done anything to curb the fake currency sneaking from Bangladesh, Further, under her regime, Bengal has become the safest place for Islamic fanatics and terrorists. She has no morality to speak against the Centre; she is the number one apologists for black economy and other any anti social activities. CPM has ruined Bengal and now she is there to finish off the glory of Bengal. Unless people of Bengal punish her, her atrocity will continue without stop.
                Reply
                1. M
                  Michellegt;Vedicgt;human
                  Dec 2, 2016 at 5:22 am
                  Army had a tip-off Mumtaz be-energy trying to export black money across the boarder to Bangla,-----now she's running around like a fe-male cat being useless without black cash worried trying to figure out her next move to grab scamming voters to rig election to stay in power.
                  Reply
                  1. M
                    ModiFan
                    Dec 2, 2016 at 7:08 pm
                    I am amazed - she has been smoking pot or something mighty strong. She sees Modi controls Indigo and Air traffic Controllers. She thinks that ATC is against her in a conspiracy. lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Now she thinks Army is doing a coop against a state government. Give me break!lt;br/gt;Lady has gone cucu, nuts, bonkers, crazy. She is flying off the handle. lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;She caught some infection from Khujliwala in Delhi. Blame everything on Modi. lt;br/gt;Modi is too busy worrying about the nation. He does not have time to worry about inspects like you and khujliwal oh and his impotent bandhu called pappy.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Opposition is gone off the handle. They do not know how to manage Modi.lt;br/gt;Desperate people will do self destructive things. lt;br/gt;Just watch - this is the beginning of the end of Didi.
                    Reply
                    1. N
                      Nbalu two
                      Dec 2, 2016 at 2:59 am
                      Anyhow by all these precautionary measures mamatha madam is made to be panicked.modiji is creating panic among others when he acts.ha ha ha.
                      Reply
                      1. K
                        khanna
                        Dec 2, 2016 at 5:30 am
                        She is paranoid requires help from a shrink
                        Reply
                        1. P
                          Partho
                          Dec 2, 2016 at 4:46 am
                          Feku must know it is not Gujarat where he get away with macres and encounters.
                          Reply
                          1. R
                            Rajib Nath
                            Dec 2, 2016 at 5:05 pm
                            Not much brain required to understand this nautanki. She stands completely exposed.
                            Reply
                            1. R
                              ramji
                              Dec 2, 2016 at 10:28 pm
                              Why Mamta is breaching the copy right of the person who was chief minister of Gujarat for 12 years ,She will have to pay a heavy penalty if his cronies go to court!!!. Before saying any thing she should first consult her legal advisers about who holds the copy right for the dialogue she is using.
                              Reply
                              1. V
                                Vedic_Citizen
                                Dec 2, 2016 at 3:36 am
                                Public is not interested in such psychic show. Presence of Army is a worry for her, not that of Jihadhis and illegal immigrants!
                                Reply
                                1. S
                                  Subrato
                                  Dec 2, 2016 at 7:00 pm
                                  Madam - you are an experienced politician. You know India and Indian Army. Now you think - the Center is against you - that is understandable. lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;But to think that Army is against you - is plain stupid. Unless - you think you are as bad as stan.
                                  Reply
                                  1. V
                                    Viswanath
                                    Dec 2, 2016 at 3:26 am
                                    This lady has developed delusional disorders as was evident from her seeing threats to her life even from silly issues.
                                    Reply
                                    1. A
                                      Amit
                                      Dec 2, 2016 at 3:22 am
                                      Center govt should not pay heed to this me ntal women. Everyday she will throw out some conspiracy theory like Kejriwal.
                                      Reply
                                      1. A
                                        Amit
                                        Dec 2, 2016 at 3:20 am
                                        He dirty and completely fked up face impressed them.
                                        Reply
                                        1. A
                                          Amit
                                          Dec 2, 2016 at 3:19 am
                                          This ma d women should be put in a men tal asylum.
                                          Reply
                                          1. N
                                            neeraj agrawal
                                            Dec 2, 2016 at 5:27 am
                                            Do u wanna say that NaMo has only been PM. He was CM of Gujrat for two full terms and elected third time for CM. He got full majority in LS to become PM.
                                            Reply
                                            1. Load More Comments