The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Why BM Bhama could not fly to Lucknow

New Delhi, June 17: Braj Mohan Bhama had a bad day today.

Flight I: He reached the airport in Delhi just after 8 to take an Indian Airlines flight to Lucknow. With four others accompanying him, Bhama boarded IC-601 that was to take off at 0910 hours. After nearly two hours on the runway, according to Birender Singh who was travelling with Bhama, the pilot abandoned the flight citing a technical snag.

Flight II: Bhama and the others were shifted to another plane. After 20-25 minutes of waiting, this one was aborted, too.

Flight III: Bhama really had to fly to Lucknow today. So he arranged a chartered flight. This one took off but after hovering over Lucknow, the pilot said visibility was poor and the plane had to be taken back to Delhi.

Result: Bhama could not go to Lucknow.

Why couldn’t he have flown after that, one might ask' When he got off the chartered flight in Delhi at 2 pm, airlines staff told him the plane could take off at 3. That would have been too late for Bhama. He was heading to Lucknow to file his nomination as a Congress candidate for the upcoming Rajya Sabha elections. The deadline for that ended at 3 pm.

Three aborted flights and an aborted parliamentary career — it’s hard not to sniff a conspiracy. And Bhama has a theory, take it or leave it.

So, who’s the conspirator' Mulayam Singh Yadav, of course.

Bhama alleged a plot by Mulayam Singh to sabotage his nomination in the backdrop of acrimonious exchanges between the Congress and the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh.

Congress sources believe the mischief was done at the level of air traffic control in Lucknow. If a Congress nominee enters the fray, a contest becomes inevitable and MLAs cannot violate the party whip because of the anti-defection law.

The Samajwadi Party has nominated five of its own candidates, besides supporting business tycoon Anil Ambani, who is contesting as an Independent. Another businessman, Lalit Suri, originally a BJP candidate who has turned Independent, has to rely on Mulayam Singh and 16 Independent MLAs for victory.

After the Samajwadis refused to back its candidate, the Congress, which does not have the numbers to get its nominee elected, last night nominated Bhama for a token fight.

Bhama, however, claimed that he was sure of victory. “At least 16 Independent MLAs were supporting me. They are not with Mulayam Singh. That is why they hatched this conspiracy to deny me nomination,” he said.

Amid angry protests at the airport, he alleged that Indian Airlines had “deliberately” aborted the flights to ensure he did not reach Lucknow on time.

“It is a conspiracy and there should be a thorough inquiry,” said Birender Singh.

Asked who were behind the conspiracy, he said some “big people” were fighting the Rajya Sabha elections from Uttar Pradesh.

As Bhama could not get to Lucknow, the Congress had two dummy candidates — Madan Mohan Shukla and Haren Agarwal — file papers.

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