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‘Dictating who would eat what’: Mamata Banerjee stings Modi on Air India’s veg meal in economy class

Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee made the comment while addressing an election rally in Murshidabad Lok Sabha constituency where parliamentary polls are to be held on April 23.

lok sabha elections Updated: Apr 18, 2019 07:34 IST
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
Hindustan Times, Berhampore/Kolkata
lok sabha elections 2019,mamata banerjee,PM Modi
Trinamool chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee addresses an election rally at Murshidabad in West Bengal on Wednesday, April 18, 2019.(ANI )

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, on Wednesday, slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi over Air India (AI)’s policy of serving only vegetarian foods in the economy classes of its domestic flights.

“Air India has stopped serving non-vegetarian food in the economy classes. If you want to have chicken, you would have to purchase expensive tickets (in the business class),” she said at a public meeting in Kandi under Murshidabad Lok Sabha constituency, where polling will be held on April 23.

Expanding the scope of her statement into a political statement, the Bengal chief minister said, “They are not allowing the people to eat what they want. They are dictating who would eat what.”

In July 2017, AI announced that passengers flying economy classes on domestic flights would not be served non- vegetarian foods as the carrier wanted to cut down on costs and stop wastage.

Rejecting chief minister’s allegation, Sayantan Basu, general secretary of the Bengal unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), said that the AI decision was a business call keeping operating costs in mind. “She finds politics in everything and resorts to baseless allegations,” Basu said.

Incidentally, in the months after May 2016, when her party was re-elected in the state, Mamata Banerjee used to regularly criticise Bharatiya Janata Party leaders for advocating beef ban.

On Wednesday, speaking at the rally in Kandi and another one in Raghunathgunj under Jangipur Lok Sabha constituency, the Trinamool chief once again alleged that the Congress candidates -- (former President Pranab Mukherjee’s son) Abhijit Mukherjee in Jangipur and Adhir Chowdhury in Baharampur -- were getting support from Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the BJP.

“In the panchayat polls last year, the BJP, Congress and Left contested together. In the 2016 assembly elections, Congress and Left Front joined hands. This time, too, all these three parties have struck a clandestine alliance,” alleged Mamata Banerjee.

She also alleged that the Centre is misusing different central agencies to harass opposition leaders. “From Mayawati to Akhilesh Yadav, from Stalin to Lalu Prasad Yadav, they are harassing everyone. The PM has created an air of scare throughout the country,” she remarked.

Mamata Banerjee is facing a challenge to retain the 34 seats she won in Bengal in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, when, despite the Modi wave in the country, she could limit the BJP to two seats.

She has vowed a clean sweep of the 42 constituencies in the state, while the BJP president Amit Shah has set a target of 22-23 seats for his party workers.

In the 16th Lok Sabha, TMC won 34 seats from Bengal. The BJP and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) won two each and the Congress won four.

First Published: Apr 18, 2019 07:34 IST