Aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia supported the choice of Jewar for Uttar Pradesh's next international airport, saying it will bring development to the area. Critics have slammed the choice of location — more than 75 km from Delhi in Gautam Budh Nagar, one of the remote corners of the district that is being developed as an industrial hub.
"The days when areas were developed first, and then a need was felt to have connectivity, are long gone," Scindia told NDTV in an exclusive interview.
"The trend has reversed, where connectivity propels development and in that context the Noida international airport is going to change the way we look at Jewar and surrounding areas," he added.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the international airport, which is expected to be operational by September 2024 with an initial capacity to handle 1.2 crore passengers per year.
On the occasion, he took a swipe at the opposition, saying, "So many projects in UP shelved by previous governments because. This too was suggested to be shelved... but then came the BJP's double-engine government and development picked up."
With a series of assembly elections around the corner, including one of the politically crucial state of Uttar Pradesh, this was PM Modi's second big inauguration in as many weeks.
Last week, inaugurating the Purvanchal Expressway, he said for previous Chief Ministers of Uttar Pradesh, "development was limited to where they had their homes only".
"The previous governments did not care about any connectivity in UP... Roads were in bad condition. Reaching Lucknow for people of eastern Uttar Pradesh was like winning the battle of Mahabharata… Who can forget many power cuts? Who can forget the law order condition and the medical facilities? I knew that the way people of UP were treated unfairly by the then government," he said.
"Discrimination was done in name of development so their interest can be served," he added, peppering his speech with many references to "dynastic leaders".
Asked about allegations of using a government stage for politics, Scindia said, "It is a fact that subsequent governments could not deliver on the promise of this airport and it is only the dynamic leadership of the Prime Minister and of the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh who could make this a success".
Scindia, whose defection to the BJP along with 22 loyalists crashed the Kamal Nath-led Congress government, was elevated to PM Modi's council of ministers earlier this year. After his exit, he had complained that "talent and capability find little credence in the Congress".