Opposition targets Mann for being drunk on flight

Updated on Sep 19, 2022 11:56 PM IST

SAD leader Sukhbir Singh Badal urged the Centre to step in and take up the matter with the German government.

Punjab chief minister Bhagwant Mann. (ANI)
Punjab chief minister Bhagwant Mann. (ANI)
By, Chandigarh

A political controversy has broken out over whether Punjab chief minister Bhagwant Mann was inebriated to the extent that he was deboarded from a Lufthansa flight on Saturday night.

With eyewitness reports suggesting this surfacing, Shiromani Akali Dal leader Sukhbir Singh Badal urged the Union government to step in and take up the matter with the German government. The Congress’s Sukhpal Singh Khaira too sought clarification on why Mann was deplaned and demanded a public apology from the chief minister for “humiliating Punjab”.

Aam Aadmi Party leader Malwinder Singh Kang, however, accused the “dirty tricks departments” of the party’s political opponents of spreading canards to defame Mann. “They cannot digest that Mann is working hard to get investments into Punjab.”

Also Read | Frankfurt flight row: Punjab Congress leader Bajwa wants Mann to step down

A Punjab government official confirmed that Mann did not board the flight as per schedule. AAP’s director of media communications Chander Suta Dogra insisted Mann was a “little unwell” and chose to take a later flight.

Eyewitness reports have suggested that Mann boarded the flight, but was inebriated and couldn’t stand without being supported. The flight was delayed by “three hours” because of a late inbound flight and an aircraft change but it got further delayed as the person and his team’s luggage were taken out amid a heated exchange between some passengers and the cabin crew, the reports added.

A Lufthansa spokesperson said the flight from Frankfurt to Delhi departed later than originally planned due to a delayed inbound flight and an aircraft change. “For data protection reasons, we do not provide any information regarding individual passengers.”

Mann was on a visit to Germany from September 11 to 18 to seek investments and for strategic tie-ups in sectors such as renewable energy, car manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, and advanced agricultural practices. He held meetings with representatives of leading companies like BMW and visited Munich, Frankfurt, and Berlin. The visit has already become controversial after a Punjab government statement claiming BMW would set up an auto parts manufacturing unit in the state was immediately denied by the German automotive giant.

In the past, Mann has been targeted by his political rivals over his fondness for liquor, but he announced in 2019 that he was giving up drinking. AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal termed Mann’s decision to become a teetotaller a “great sacrifice”.

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