AI flight delayed by an hour as Maharashtra CM's aide 'forgot document'

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has been announcing that investments running into crores will flow into Maharashtra as a result of his visit to the United States of America and he has also tweeted photos of Americans practising yoga.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis

What the CM hasn’t been talking about and, in fact, has categorically denied however, is how the worst aspects of VIP culture were allegedly on display just before he was to depart for the US.

Officials told mid-day that Air India flight AI-191 (Mumbai-Newark), which Fadnavis and his entourage were supposed to fly on, was delayed by nearly an hour in the wee hours of yesterday because the CM’s principal secretary had not brought the proper documents along.

The plane, which was supposed to depart at 1.30 am, was allegedly kept waiting until the documents were fetched from the secretary’s house. Sources said Pardeshi had a valid US visa stamped on his old passport, but he had not brought that with him and had, instead, carried a new passport that did not have the visa.

He arranged for his old passport to be brought to him and was allowed to board the aircraft after that. Other than Pardeshi, the CM’s delegation had industry minister Subhash Desai, Chief Secretary Swadheen Kshatriya, Industry Secretary Apurva Chandra, Chief of Maharashtra Industrial Development Cor-poration and Marathi Language Secretary Bhushan Gagrani and Development Commissioner Surendrakumar Bagde.

While Air India spokesperson Shobha Nimbalkar and Chairman Rohit Nandan did not respond to requests for comment despite repeated attempts, Air India tweeted, “Flight AI 191 of June 29,2015 was delayed by 57 mins due to ATC & some technical/operational reasons”. Fadnavis also denied the allegations. “The allegation that I forced to delay the flight to New York is false & misleading. I totally deny it,” the CM tweeted.

Opposition demands inquiry
Former Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan demanded an inquiry into the delay and also trained his guns on authorities, saying, “Air India officials have flouted rules under pressure.”

“The PM must take action. I don't know if he will act against Fadnavis,” Chavan said, adding, “The PM or civil aviation minister must order an inquiry into the whole affair. The reputation of the country is at stake.”

MPCC president Ashok Chavan said, “The issue is very serious. Over one-and-a-half hours were wasted just because an officer forgot to bring his passport. There should be an in-depth inquiry and action should be taken against the guilty.”

- (With inputs from Agencies)

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