Air India (AI) pilots union is in the middle of a big controversy with members questioning the outgoing executive committee’s decision to shower gifts on aviation ministry officials and airline executives using funds collected from contributions made by members.
After questions were raised, a senior office bearer of the previous executive committee who demitted office last month, wrote to members admitting that gifts were given to aviation minister Ajit Singh and also to the staff of AI chairman and managing director Rohit Nandan.
Singh, however, denied to HT having received any gift from the union. Nandan also echoed a similar view. “I have no idea at all…never heard of it. I would like to know what they gave to whom,” he said.
The Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) is a union of erstwhile Indian Airlines pilots. The questions being raised pertain to gifts given by ICPA’s northern region executive committee.
A number of pilots to whom HT spoke to questioned the “motive” behind gifts being given to “individuals”.
On January 22, a senior captain sought details of `5,38,492 withdrawn over a period of four months for giving gifts. He inquired about the details of the gifts given, the recipients, the authorising authority and whether permission was obtained from the committee.
On January 29, Captain Vivek Kumar Singh, treasurer of the committee wrote to members that Swarovski crystal candle stands were bought for aviation minister and CMD Secretariat.
“I was never taken along while they (the other committee members) went gifting to people of their choice… and did let them know that such actions can be misconstrued and would appear to be more for personal favours. As what I have seen in past, gifts were given but in an open forum and with house concurrence and not so secretly. I feel I have made the gravest mistake of my life in believing my senior and leader,” Singh wrote to members.
Office bearers contacted by HT refused to comment on the issue. However, an office bearer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said: “No expensive gifts were given to anyone.”