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Sunday, Sep 15, 2019

Split to fore in Uttarakhand BJP as CM rebuffs minister’s copter probe call

Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat says only pilot can decide where to land helicopter, ministers can’t

dehradun Updated: May 30, 2017 21:00 IST
Deep Joshi
Deep Joshi
Hindustan Times
Uttarakhand Tourism Minister has alleged conspiracy behind his chopper twice being denied permission to land at certain locations.
Uttarakhand Tourism Minister has alleged conspiracy behind his chopper twice being denied permission to land at certain locations. (HT File)

Differences within the ruling BJP government once again came to the fore Tuesday with chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat summarily rejecting tourism minister Satpal Maharaj’s allegation that his helicopter was twice denied permission to land at spots where he was to attend official functions.

“Choosing a spot for landing of a helicopter is a technical issue. Only experts (pilots) can take a call on such issues not politicians as they are not experts,” Rawat said.

Citing an example he said a serious accident was averted recently when a helicopter carrying Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis crash landed. “Only a few days back, a similar air accident was averted in Gujarat,” Rawat said while speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a function.’

Maharaj recently wrote a letter to the CM on Monday alleging that his helicopter was twice denied permission to land despite informing civil aviation department in advance about his tours. The minister said that he was first denied the permission to land in Wan, a remote spot in Chamoli district on May 10. On May 23, he was again denied permission to land at Dronagiri hill.

Criticising the civil aviation department for its “wilful and humiliating” attitude, the tourism minister urged the CM to order an inquiry so that “such incidents are not repeated”. The request though met with a rebuff with the CM apparently justifying the civil aviation department’s decision and indirectly asking Maharaj to instead follow the technical advice offered by pilots.

The reports of differences between the two have been doing the rounds since the CM inaugurated the Chardham Yatra at Rishikesh on April 27. Maharaj was conspicuous by his absence at the event. The CM’s proximity to Maharaj’s brother Bhola Maharaj is being seen as the reason behind the two sharing cold vibes.

Incidentally, Rawat also doesn’t seem to be enjoying best of relations with his other cabinet colleagues. Forest minister Harak Singh Rawat, for instance, recently termed Congress veteran and former CM Harish Rawat a better chief minister. Harak Singh also praised BJP veteran and former CM Ramesh Pokhariyal Nishank’s tenure calling him “a good administrator who didn’t get much time in the saddle.”

Rawat has been facing muted criticism also from other ruling BJP leaders since he was sworn in as the CM on March 18. The criticism has its root in the BJP brass foisting former Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) pracharak on the party legislators for the top post ignoring the contenders far more senior to him --- one of them being Maharaj.

Cabinet minister Madan Kaushik who is also the spokesperson for the Rawat government has denied the reports of a rift among the cabinet members.

First Published: May 30, 2017 21:00 IST