Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis denies delaying AI flight

Devendra Fadnavis, Maharashtra Chief Minister, Maharashtra CM,  Air India flight, Union Home Minister Kiren Rijiju
Mumbai : Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Thursday denied allegations of delaying the Air India flight to the US last Monday. He said that reports in this regard were "misleading" and that he will  file "criminal defamation" case  after returning to India.

"Enough is enough. Once I m back to India I will initiate proceedings of criminal defamation," Fadnavis, on a visit to the US to woo investment to the state, tweeted on Thursday. However, he did not specify against whom he plans to take legal action.

"I reiterate, the reports of me delaying flight are misleading. In fact when I'd already boarded, how can I say I won't travel without delegation?" said Fadnavis on Twitter.

The incident took place on Monday when he was leaving on a visit to the US along with industries minister Subhash Desai, chief secretary Swadheen Kshatriya and principal secretary Pravin Pardeshi.

According to the media reports, Pardeshi was cleared at the check-in, but was stopped as the passport he was carrying did not have a valid US visa. He had a valid US visa on his earlier passport. He arranged to bring his old passport after which he was allowed to go inside the plane.

The Congress targeted the Maharashtra CM on the matter, with his predessor Prithviraj Chavan demanding his apologise if he had caused the delay.

"If the CM did request for delaying the flight, then he must apologise. No one can delay the flight apart from for safety reasons. By interfering with the flight process, Fadnavis inconvenienced other passengers on board," Chavan, a senior Congress leader said.

The day also saw Union Home Minister Kiren Rijiju tendering apology for the similar incident. The controversy erupted after reports that a family of three persons, including a child, was not allowed on the flight to accommodate Rijiju, his aide and Jammu and Kashmir Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh on June 24.

The Minister of State for Home said he was not aware if any passenger was not allowed to board the flight due to the delayed arrival in the terminal and was ready to be probed in case required.

In trying to dose off the controversy, Union Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju, also apologised for the two back to back incidents. The Prime Minister’s Office has asked for report on the from the Civil Aviation Ministry to the two incidents.

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