The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is open to the idea of privatising loss-making Air India (AI), which is surviving on a bailout funded by the taxpayer, civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju Pusapati said on Thursday soon after taking charge of the ministry.
He also hinted that the government may review the decision to exempt Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra from security checks at domestic airports. Vadra is the only exempted person mentioned by name. All other exempted persons get the privilege on the basis of the offices they hold.
Asked about the UPA government’s Rs. 30,000-crore bailout package for AI, Pusapati said: “If anyone has to honour those commitments, there should have been no change in government.” He added that the government wouldn’t take any hasty decision on privatising AI, “but I am not closed to any idea”.
On Vadra, he said: “Security should be meaningful, not ornamental. It will depend on what the home ministry feels about the threat perception. We’ll have to see. By and large, an Indian citizen should go through it (security checks).”
Pusapati, who belongs to the TDP, also recalled his party’s long-standing demand for naming the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport at Hyderabad after TDP founder and former Andhra Pradesh chief minister NT Rama Rao.
“It was the demand of undivided Andhra. We would like to see it through. Against the wishes of the Telugu people, the (Congress state) government named it after someone else. There is a feeling that NTR’s name should be there,” he said.