Tharoor asks Scindia to shed arrogance and fix loopholes
New Delhi: The taunting, sarcasm and counterattack continued on social media on Day 2, with Congress MP from Thiruvananthapuram accusing Union civil aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia of adopting “an uncaring attitude towards the public”. Taking forward Tuesday’s public duel, Mr Tharoor, in reply to Mr Scindia's “armchair critic” jibe, asked the minister to “shed arrogance”, apologise to the people for the inconvenience caused and fix “glaring loopholes in the ministry’s functioning”. Mr Scindia has yet to respond.
“My dear Mr Scindia, it's a pity that since switching sides, you have adopted the Modi government’s uncaring attitude towards the public. As Rahul Gandhi said during the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra, it's clear the suffering of the people is not the suffering of this government. Crores worth of economic value lost, lakhs of lives disrupted and thousands of people unable to go about their daily lives during this festive season -- and all the minister can do is engage in name-calling,” Mr Tharoor posted.
In his post on X, the Congress MP pointed out that there are a number of evident shortcomings in the government's planning and its failure to take proactive action on problems that could have been anticipated.
“The minister would be better served by shifting his focus from my armchair and my diligent researchers to the agony of the passengers. Perhaps then he would find time to fix the myriad incompetencies, the absolute lack of preparation and the glaring loopholes in his ministry’s functioning,” wrote Mr Tharoor in a scathing retort to Mr Scindia’s Tuesday’s replies. He though acknowledged “some growth” in the aviation sector over the last nine years and also clarified that he is not blaming the government for the weather.
Mr Tharoor further said he doesn’t need an "esoteric thesaurus" to respond to the minister’s “selective rebuttal” of his thread on Wednesday.
“Some 80,000 passengers had their flights cancelled on January 14 and 15 alone, with lakhs more suffering through incessant delays. It would be prudent for the minister to apologise to them for the agony and distress that his government has caused, enabled and overseen rather than engage in nugatory name-calling. Mantri-ji, ahankaar chhodo, janata se maafi maango!” the Congress leader wrote while tagging news articles once again.
The Congress MP went on to counter Mr Scindia’s claim on runway maintenance by questioning its timing and delay in completion.
“Runway maintenance work is indeed critical for safety. However, maintenance for the one other CAT III-B runway at Delhi airport only began in September 2023! Why wasn’t maintenance started earlier, so it could be completed before the beginning of winter? The winter fog and "pollution incidents" in Delhi are sadly an annual event that could and should have been planned for -- which is exactly what your ministry failed to do," he posted.
"Ah, your ministry finally noticed the crane's "impact on the runway"! Why did your government wait almost two weeks to take a decision on the crane that was obstructing the runway? The crane’s violation of SOPs was flagged on January 5, but no action was taken or announced until you tweeted this decision on January 17!” the Congress MP questioned.
He further said that whatever "ineffective" notices the DCGA may be issuing, the reality is an acute pilot shortage, frequent flight diversions and “continuing agony for Indian travelers”.
On December 29, last year, 50 flights were diverted in the span of just three days because of a shortage of CAT III-trained pilots, which is 86 per cent of Delhi-bound flights, Mr Tharoor wrote, adding, “And don’t take my word for it; this was a statement by a DGCA official.”
On Mr Scindia’s allegations that several airlines had to shut shop or were on the verge of it during the UPA regime, Mr Tharoor countered, “This is complete misdirection and obfuscation. In 2014, India had 6-7 major airlines, none of which had even 1/3rd market share. Today, there are just two companies with over 90 per cent of the market. Further, under the BJP government, thousands of crores have been wasted on the failed UDAN scheme. After 7 years, out of 493 subsidised routes, only 225 (about 47 per cent) are still surviving. This is not even considering the 403 other routes that were awarded but could not even begin operations."
He added: "The claims about doubling the number of airports are one of your most-repeated concoctions. In 2014, the Airports Authority of India annual report shows that there were already 125 airports in India. In 10 years, you have been able to add just 20 airports. In comparison, from 2004 to 2014, the UPA added 35 operational airports.”