Privatise airport (Representational Image)
The Congress on Sunday attacked the Union government over the move to privatise 20-25 airports, alleging that it is like every other decision of the Modi government which has ended up benefiting big private players but goes against the common man. Airports Authority of India Chairman Guruprasad Mohapatra had said on Friday that the government would privatise 20-25 more airports in the next phase, having privatised six earlier.
Addressing a press conference, Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera claimed that the Aviation Ministry had ignored the recommendations of NITI Aayog and Department of Economic Affairs which, he claimed, were not in favour of awarding one private group contract for more than two airports. Only 14 of 123 Indian airports are in profit and five of the profit-making ones have been handed over to one private company, he alleged.
Taking a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he said the BJP leader came to power with the promise of 'sabka saath, sabka vikas' (with all, development for all), but has betrayed those who believed in him.
"We have been from time to time bringing before you facts which reveal and expose that every decision taken by the Modi government ends up benefiting and profiting big corporates, but goes against the common Indian," he claimed, adding that the UPA government had decided to not award Delhi and Mumbai airports to the same group even though it had emerged as the only successful bidder.
Khera said the Modi government has brought in aviation security fee in place of passenger service fee and it will cost passengers 1.5 times more. "It is very visible who is profiting and who is losing in all these decisions. All conditions which were brought for fliers' interests are being set aside," he said.
Noting that the government amended the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India (Amendment) Act, Khera said it means that all five airports handed over to the private group will have virtually no government control for the next 50 years.
Speaking on other issues, he supported the Karnataka Assembly speaker's decision to disqualify rebel Congress-JD(S) MLAs and dismissed BJP's criticism of it as a case of pot calling the kettle black.
The Congress spokesperson also asked the BJP to not make Kashmir its "laboratory for experiments" and urged the Union government to consult all stakeholders before making any move in the state. Political process in the state has come to a standstill in the last few years and the sooner it starts the better it will be, he said.