Fadnavis denies delaying flight; threatens legal action over 'misleading reports'

The CM tweeted from the US yesterday to express his displeasure over the controversy

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis yesterday stuck to his stand that he did not delay the Air India flight he took to the US on Tuesday, and said that he would initiate criminal defamation proceedings in the matter once he returned to the state.

Tweeting from the US, the CM said he had not asked for the flight to be held. Pic/PTI
Tweeting from the US, the CM said he had not asked for the flight to be held. Pic/PTI

The chief minister and his entourage were to fly on the Air India flight AI 191 (Mumbai-Newark), which was allegedly delayed by nearly an hour as the CM’s principal secretary, Pravin Pardeshi, had not taken the proper documents along.

Reports had stated that Pardeshi was cleared at the check-in, but was held back as the passport he was carrying did not have a valid US visa. He arranged to bring his old passport, which had a valid US visa, after which he was allowed to proceed to the aircraft.

The CM has, however, denied the allegations that the flight was held at his behest. Currently in the US on a week-long tour to woo investment into Maharashtra, Fadnavis tweeted yesterday to emphasise that he had not asked for the flight to be held for his secretary.

“I reiterate, the reports of me delaying flight are misleading. In fact when I’d already boarded, how can I say I won’t travel without delegation?” he wrote. He added, “Enough is enough. Once I’m back to India I will initiate proceedings of criminal defamation.” He did not, however, specify whom he plans to take legal action against.

‘Blatant lie’
“If at all any report that has been submitted states that I refused to travel without my delegation then it is a blatant lie, because passengers sitting beside and behind me are witness that I was sitting quietly waiting for departure. Not even once I asked to offload me,” the chief minister said.

As per Air India, the flight was delayed by 57 minutes partly due to technical or operational reasons, in addition to some delay also caused by the ATC. The Congress has targeted Fadnavis over the issue, with former CM Prithviraj Chavan demanding that Fadnavis apologise.

“If Fadnavis did request to delay the flight, then he must apologise. By interfering with the flight procedure, he inconvenienced hundreds of passengers on board,” Chavan said.

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