Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari reportedly had to wait for over two hours at the Mumbai airport this morning to take a flight to Uttarakhand as he could not use the state government aircraft.
The Governor took a commercial flight to Dehradun because permission for the special aircraft did not come until the last minute, say reports.
Reports suggest the Governor was to take a flight at 10 am to Uttarakhand, his home state. “Accordingly, a state government plane was booked earlier. But, the permission did not come till the last moment,” news agency PTI quoted a source as saying.
“Normally, governors do not wait for the permission to come. He sat in the aircraft. The pilot then said the permission was not given yet,” this source told PTI.
The Governor’s office later booked a seat in a private aircraft and he left for Dehradun at around 12.15 pm, said PTI.
Maharashtra’s opposition BJP accused the Shiv Sena-led government of denying use of the state government special plane out of vendetta; the ruling alliance accuses Governor Koshiyari of displaying open bias.
The BJP has demanded an apology from Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray for what it calls “insult to the Governor”.
The rift between the state government and the governor is currently playing out over 12 nominees for the Maharashtra legislative council or upper house in the assembly. Mr Koshyari is yet to sign off on names suggested by the government.
Former Maharashtra minister and senior BJP leader Sudhir Mungantiwar said: “If the state government has purposefully denied permission, it is a blot on the state’s reputation. If this embarrassment is not intentional, then the state government should suspend the official who failed to issue the flying permission in time to the governor.”
Senior Shiv Sena leader and Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Raut denied any politics behind the episode. “We will not resort to revenge politics. Just because he hasn’t signed on 12 names for council, we won’t stop his plane from flying,” he said.
Another Sena leader, Priyanka Chaturvedi, stressed that no one is allowed to take special government planes if not for official purposes, implying that Mr Koshyari’s visit was a personal one.
“There should be no debate on this. The Prime Minister himself says whatever the post, we must shun VVIP culture. Government planes can go anywhere but if the reasons are personal, not even the Chief Minister uses them,” Ms Chaturvedi said.
The Governor had said he wanted to survey damage after the Uttarakhand glacier burst, it was pointed out. “But his constitutional obligations are towards Maharashtra. He can take a commercial flight. There can be questions if government aircraft is used for personal reasons,” said the Shiv Sena MP.