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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 16 April 2024

Congress's 'suit-boot' jab at government: Party slams swift airport upgrade for Ambani bash

The Prime Minister has spent his whole career in politics helping out his billionaire friends, said Jairam Ramesh

Sanjay K. Jha New Delhi Published 03.03.24, 05:34 AM
Jairam Ramesh

Jairam Ramesh File image

The Congress on Saturday used the Centre’s magnanimity to create temporary facilities of an international airport at Jamnagar in Gujarat for the pre-wedding ceremony of Mukesh Ambani’s youngest son to buttress its pet charge that Prime Minister Narendra Modi works for the rich and the powerful.

Jamnagar, where the Ambanis have a huge complex, is hosting the pre-wedding functions of Anant Ambani and it has attracted celebrities from India and abroad. But Jamnagar doesn’t have an international airport where the ultra-rich can land directly and the closest international airport is located 300km away in Ahmedabad.

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Jamnagar has a defence airport where private and commercial flights are allowed. The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has erected a passenger terminal building for that purpose. But international flights could not have landed there without permission which was duly granted by the Modi government.

The airport has been made an international airport for 10 days (from February 25 to March 5) so that the Ambani-Merchant families can welcome global guests such as Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Rihanna, Ivanka Trump and several former Prime Ministers.

Several ministries — civil aviation, home, health — joined hands to create temporary facilities for customs, immigration and health check-up, among others. Reports suggested that the Indian Air Force (IAF) even opened up its technical area for private jets.

Congress communications chief Jairam Ramesh tweeted: “When it comes to helping out his rich industrialist friends, Prime Minister Modi is willing to do anything. For billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s son’s wedding, he has declared Jamnagar airport an international airport for 10 days. He has ordered the doubling of the size of the passenger terminal - with taxpayer money - just to make life more convenient for the wedding guests.”

Taking note of the exceptional flexibility of the government, Ramesh said: “The Jamnagar airport is close to the Pakistan border, and is sensitive to defence concerns - but the private jets of the wedding guests have even been allowed to use the Indian Air Force ‘technical area’. Of course, this is not a new development. The Prime Minister has spent his whole career in politics helping out his billionaire friends. Here are some recent examples: Ensured that six out of six airports being privatized went to Adani. Allowed two companies to take over 90% of India’s airline market. Wrote off Rs 14.5 lakh crore in bad loans from corporates.”

The Congress spokesperson pointed to the dichotomy in Modi’s attitude as he said: “Meanwhile, India’s poor get their homes demolished under the bulldozer raj and farmers have to face bullets for demanding adequate MSP for their crops. India’s rail passengers, overwhelmingly poor and middle class, face 10% annual ticket price hikes, see their sleeper seats removed to make way for AC 1st class seats, and have Rs 3,700 crore in senior concessions snatched away from them. The priorities are clear: Suit-boot-loot-jhoot!”

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