New Delhi: Under attack over two ministers causing inconvenience to Air India passengers, Civil Aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju today tendered an apology while saying that such "indefensible" incidents should never have happened.
However, Raju also said that the incident is "too small" for the Prime Minister's Office to step-in. "Whatever has happened should not have happened... I need to get to the truth... as Civil Aviation minister I apologise (for the inconvenience caused to the passengers)," Raju told reporters.
He was responding to a volley of questions on the twin incidents involving Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
Raju said his Ministry was getting all the facts about the two incidents. "I need to get to the truth, and I will do my duty," he added.
The Minister said that the Ministry would submit a report to the PMO, which has sought details on "delay in Air India flights on account of VIP travels in the recent past".
According to Raju, the incident is "too small" for the PMO to take note of. The development came after reports surfaced about inconvenience caused to passengers of two flights of Air India since June 24 because of Rijiju and Fadnavis.
Meanwhile, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis stuck to his stand that he did not delay the Air India flight he took to the US, dubbing the reports in this regard as "misleading" and said that on returning home he will initiate "criminal defamation" proceedings in the matter.
"Enough is enough. Once I m back to India I will initiate proceedings of criminal defamation," Fadnavis, on a week-long trip to America to woo investment to the state, tweeted.
Enough is enough. Once I m back to India I will initiate proceedings of criminal defamation.— Devendra Fadnavis (@Dev_Fadnavis) July 2, 2015
I reiterate,the reports of me delaying flight are misleading.Infact when I'd already boarded how can I say I wont travel without delegation?— Devendra Fadnavis (@Dev_Fadnavis) July 2, 2015
A media report surfaced yesterday that on June 24, three members of a family, including a child, were offloaded from Leh-Delhi Air India flight at Leh to accommodate Rijiju along with Jammu and Kashmir Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh and an aide. This also led to some delay in the flight.
Rijiju had claimed it was not a "delay" as the departure of the flight was advanced due to technical reasons.
Another report a few days back said that an Air India flight to Newark from Mumbai was delayed by nearly an hour on June 29 after it was reported that an aide of Fadnavis travelling with him had not carried his passport with valid US visa.
Principal Secretary Pravin Pardeshi was cleared at the check-in but was held back before boarding as the passport he was carrying did not have the valid visa.