In less than 24 hours after the Trinamul Congress’s request for a special train to transport its workers to Delhi was turned down by the Indian Railways, the party raised a fresh hue and cry on Saturday evening about the so-called “conspiracy” getting extended to the airline sector after a Delhi-bound Air Vistara flight on Sunday which had over a 100 TMC workers booked on it got cancelled.
The airline, however, maintained that the flight was cancelled on a “purely operational and logistical rationale” and had “nothing to do with politics”. “We did not even know who the passengers booked on the cancelled flight were,” a senior official of Air Vistara told The Telegraph Online.
The controversy came to light after the Trinamul Congress posted on its verified X timeline that “After rejecting the request for a special train to Delhi, the BJP has now ensured the cancellation of flights that were booked by our leaders. These consecutive vindictive moves clearly suggest BJP's ulterior ANTI-BENGAL sentiment.”
The post attached a picture of a purported flight status of UK 738 from Calcutta to Delhi, which was supposed to depart at 6.45 pm on Sunday, getting cancelled for “operational reasons”.
“Here's a note for the BJP-led Central Government: You can try with ALL YOUR MIGHT, but we shall reach the capital and emerge VICTORIOUS in our FIGHT FOR JUSTICE!” the post went on to add.
"Vistara Flight UK747 operating from Kolkata to Port Blair and the return flight UK787 on 30 September 2023 were cancelled due to bad weather in Port Blair. We are operating one additional flight on the two sectors on 01 October 2023 for the stranded customers in the two cities,” an official statement from Vistara read.
“In order to accommodate these additional flights, we had to take the difficult call of cancelling one of our flights scheduled to fly from Delhi to Kolkata and then back to Delhi. We are in touch with all the affected customers to offer them alternate options including offering them seats in our next flights, basis availability, or refunds,” the statement offered as an explanation for the cancellation of the flight from Calcutta.
“We were forced to cancel the flight to Delhi from Calcutta because we wanted to prioritize travel of both the Port Blair-bound passengers stranded in Calcutta and the Delhi-bound passengers stranded in Port Blair and utilize this flight to carry out those operations. We are in the process of arranging alternative flights to passengers from Calcutta,” the official said.
Md Tauseefur Rahaman, a Trinamul leader booked on the cancelled flight wasn’t convinced. “It’s late Saturday night and I haven’t received any communication from the airline so far for an alternative flight so far. The promptness with which they cancelled the flight is nowhere seen in the remedies they say they are making,” he said.
“I am not going to Delhi for business or pleasure. My trip to the city is urgent, time-bound and concerns crores of people in this state. What if the airline offers me an alternative flight on Monday? My whole purpose of reaching Delhi would fail,” Rahaman’s exasperation was evident.
“The airline is bothered about passengers from Delhi. What about those from Calcutta and those who may have travelled from remote corners of Bengal to be on this flight? Were any other flights cancelled by the airline?” he asked.
Social media circles were bombarded by condemnation of the flight cancellation by Trinamul leaders in a short span of a few hours after the news broke who, as admitted by one of the party leaders, suffered from the once bitten twice shy syndrome. “This is yet another example of the fear psychosis currently prevailing within the BJP for the programme we have undertaken in Delhi,” party spokesperson Kunal Ghosh maintained.
“What the Trinamul is alleging is making no sense,” responded BJP spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya. “First they applied for train booking to the IRCTC which is an affiliate of the Indian Railways, instead of the Railways itself. Now they are pulling up the BJP for a flight which has been cancelled by a private airline. What has the BJP got to do with any of this? This is a reflection of their utter frustration at being rejected by its people,” he maintained.