THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In a major embarrassment to the KPCC leadership, Shashi Tharoor has defended the Centre's move to lease out Thiruvananthapuram International Airport for 50 years to Adani Enterprises.
This has come at a time when the Chief Minister had called an all party meet here on Thursday. The move of the state government is to ensure that the Opposition is also taken into confidence in its fight against the Centre and the state BJP leadership on their cabinet decision to privatize the Thiruvananthapuram International Airport.
Tharoor, who represents the Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha constituency, has always been in favour of the privatization of the airport.
He tweeted, "My position on the airport has been consistent since before the elections. I am not a politician who says one thing to the voters and something else afterward for political convenience. Had my colleagues consulted me before taking a negative stand, I would have explained my views to them”.
His tweet continued, “I am speaking in the best interests of my constituency. As its MP that is my job. The people of Thiruvananthapuram want a first-class airport worthy of the city's history, status and potential. In this context, a decision, however controversial, is preferable to the long delay we have suffered. The reality is that a private entity running the operations competitively is the only way this airport could flourish. Whoever it is, the ownership of the land and airport as well as the responsibilities of the ATC, Security, Customs and Immigration still remains with the Govt agencies".
On Wednesday, Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala and KPCC president Mullapally Ramachandran had urged the Centre to review its cabinet decision on the privatization issue. Chennithala had said that the BJP government’s decision to go for PPP mode was taken after ignoring the state government’s offer.
On Thursday, while addressing former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s 76th birth anniversary programme at Indira Bhavan, Mullapally came down heavily against the BJP government.
“The Thiruvananthapuram International Airport is worth Rs 30,000 crore and is spread over an area of 350 acres. It is running on a profit and is a role model for other airports. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP should reveal why such an airport is being sold to the Adani group. The decision to hand over the airport to Adani group for 50 years on a lease should be immediately withdrawn,” said Mullapally.
While the KPCC leadership has not reacted to Tharoor’s tweet, K C Venugopal, who is an MP and organising general secretary of AICC, maintained that Tharoor's stand is his personal view. He said there is no need to evoke controversy out of Tharoor’s tweet as the KPCC leadership had already expressed their dissent against the Centre's move. In a television interview, Venugopal had blamed the Modi government citing that his ploy is to ensure that all the airports are given to Adani Enterprises.