As PM Narendra Modi addressed his first physical rally in poll-bound Punjab after repealing of the farm laws, Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi claimed that his chopper was denied permission to take off twice during the day due to flying restrictions imposed during the PM’s visit.
Channi had to skip AICC leader Rahul Gandhi’s rally in Hoshiarpur as he could not take off. The Punjab CM was to fly to Hoshiarpur by AICC chopper from Rajindra park helipad in front of his official residence.
Sources in aviation department of state government said they checked with airport authorities and found that they had not declared any “no-fly zone”.
“There is nothing called declaration of no-fly zones. The President of India’s house is a permanent no-fly zone. It is like that. On several occasions like Independence Days and Republic Day, they embargo other planes for about 15-20 minutes when the PM is flying. It is not done for hours,” said an official of the state’s civil aviation department.
The CM, however, told the media that when he boarded the chopper at 12 noon, he was told that he could not fly as the state’s skies were declared no-fly zone due to PM’s visit. He added that he had to wait for four hours before he was given permission to fly. He then flew to Sujanpur for another programme.
“When I sat in the chopper, I was told that I cannot fly. I was not able to fly in my state despite being the Chief Minister of the state,” he said, adding: “Finally, I left for Sujanpur in the evening. But when I had to leave from Sujanpur to reach Jalandhar, my chopper was denied permission to fly….I have programmes in Jalandhar but they are not allowing me to fly,” Channi told the media before he left for Jalandhar by road.
An upset Channi also asked: “I am the CM. I am not a terrorist that I am not allowed to fly. What kind of politics is this?….Why am I being stopped in my own state?”
The CM also accused the BJP of playing politics to stop the Congress leaders’ to campaign in the state.
Modi addressed a public rally in Jalandhar on Monday and even took a dig at the state government about the security breach during his last visit. He said he wanted to pay obeisance at Tripurmalini Devi Shaktipeeth in Jalandhar after that event this time, but police and the administration said they would not be able to make arrangements.
During his previous visit to Ferozepur in January, PM Modi was stranded on a road after protestors had laid siege along the way. He had to return without addressing a rally.