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Oppn slams Centre over proposed AI sale

PUBLISHED ON JAN 28, 2020 12:01 AM IST

New Delhi

Several opposition leaders on Monday hit out at the Centre over the proposed sale of Air India, with the Congress accusing the government of misleading the people.

The Congress demanded that the Centre lay out a clear plan for the Air India, saying that the proposed sale of the national carrier has been going on since 2014.

“The sale of Air India has been going on for the last six years since 2014 when this government assumed office. A special group of ministers (GoM) was formed to look into it. Five ministers deliberated on it. If the government seriously wants to sell Air India, they should look for a real investor and go for a real strategic sale. The government has been misleading on the issue. Sometimes they claimed that the control will be with them and on other occasions they talked about dividing Air India. They should spell out clearly what they want to do with it,” Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate said.

Congress leader Sandeep Dixit said the proposal to sell 100% stake in Air India showed that the country’s “economy is in depression”. “Selling the company shows that there is a serious bankruptcy in the country. It also shows that our economy is in depression. We also suspect some corruption in the process of selling the company,” the former MP said. The NDA government has failed to manage the economy as well as Air India, he added.

CPI general secretary D Raja blamed the NDA government’s bad policies for the problems of the national carrier. “Air India has the potential to emerge as one of the powerhouses of the aviation sector and its problems are due to the government policies. The BJP government wants to privatise all PSUs (public sector undertakings) in the name of private-public partnership and as a result are destroying the fundamentals of our economy,” Raja said.

The comments have come after the government announced Monday its plan to sell the entire stake in Air India.

Meanwhile, the Centre also drew flak from BJP MP Subramanian Swamy who threatened to go to court against the sale, calling it anti-national. “This deal is wholly anti-national and I will be forced to go to court. We cannot sell our family silver,” Swamy tweeted.

Former finance minister and party leader Yashwant Sinha also hit out at the government, and said the Centre would not get any buyers for Air India due to the “worst economic slowdown” which the country is facing at present.

However, Union civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri clarified that Swamy and Singh’s views did not reflect those of the government. “The views of the two gentlemen, I am afraid, in this case do not reflect the views of the government,” Puri said.

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