NDA nearly sold off Air India: Patel

Written by Agencies | New Delhi, October 24: | Updated: Oct 24 2008, 23:32pm hrs
Accusing the previous NDA Government of nearly selling off national carrier Air India, Civil Aviation minister Praful Patel today said the UPA has made aviation a sunrise sector.

Replying to the discussion on the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India Bill 2007, which was passed by Parliament, Patel lashed out at his predecessor Rajiv Pratap Rudy, saying though he spoke passionately about upholding the significance of Air India, "it was in fact during the NDA regime that tenders had been issued for selling it off ....there was a bid by Tata-Singapore for it".

He said it was also during NDA rule "that Air India lost out to competition as it was not allowed to buy new carriers".

The Minister also expressed surprise over Rudy's remark that there was a "cartelisation of Air India-Jet-Sahara". He said had this been the case then the national carrier would also have been levying congestion charges on passengers.

Patel said the UPA government has not only upheld the dignity of Air India, but it also provided passengers with "so much to choose from" with the presence of several low-cost airlines. "This has also led to the high growth in the aviation sector," the Minister said.

Promising to adhere to the suggestions of the Standing Committee on Transport, he said the Ministry will take care of the interests of the employees of airlines.