In the wake of the ongoing strike in Air India, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday claimed that the airline was in a "mess" and demanded a clarification from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on who was responsible for it.
It also wanted the government to specify what steps are being taken to save the national carrier.
"We are at a loss to understand what to ask the Prime Minister on Air India. Who is responsible for this mess in Air India? This seems the right time for the government to come out with an answer. The PM should explain," BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy said.
Over 20,000 employees, including engineers, went on a nationwide flash strike Tuesday protesting against a 'gag order' on union members from talking to media and 'delay' in payment of salaries. The management, however, clarified that there is only one general circular and no 'gag order'.
Rudy expressed his displeasure over the 'gag order'.
The BJP leader, who is himself a pilot and a former Minister of State for Civil Aviation, alleged that the merger of Air India and Indian Airlines by UPA-I government "has proved to be a proven disaster."
He alleged that Air India Chairman and Managing Directors were changed frequently and Air India had become a "laboratory for experiments."
"Today the employees, engineers, captains, in-flight crew, management, the government and even the passengers of Air India are not happy," Rudy said.
When asked why BJP was not demanding resignation of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader and Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel, Rudy said it appeared that "nothing was under the control of the minister" and so the opposition wanted the Prime Minister to clarify.
"The Prime Minister had, in an unprecedented step, said from the Red Fort on August 15, 2009 that we are giving careful attention to the problems of Air India and will find a solution soon," Rudy said.
The Rajya Sabha MP maintained that financial aid of Rs 800 crore, followed by another Rs 1,200 crore, had been given to Air India in the recent past to revive it but to no avail and it was facing a deficit of Rs 15,000 crore.
"The Mangalore accident, which shocked the whole country, has shown that Air India is surrounded by controversies. This accident has meant a loss of Rs 500 crore for the aircraft and another Rs 400 crore in insurance," he said.