Rajya SabhaLok Sabha

December 1, 2016

Flight carrying Mamata Banerjee denied permission to land despite low fuel, Derek O’Brien demands an enquiry | FULL TRANSCRIPT

Flight carrying Mamata Banerjee denied permission to land despite low fuel, Derek O’Brien demands an enquiry | FULL TRANSCRIPT

I have given a Notice under Rule 267 because members of this House and the country needs to know what happened last night. The Chief Minister of Bengal was coming from Patna on an one-hour flight. The pilot, when the plane was 200 km away from Kolkata, announced that they were eighth in the sequence of landing. Subsequently, the pilot has gone on record, saying that he informed the ATC that he was short of fuel, so he be allowed to land.

The landing was delayed. The flight hovered around for – some people are saying 15, some people are saying 30 minutes – but a considerable amount of time. Now after that, which the ATC is saying, another flight was allowed to land. The bottom line is that the pilot had no other option; they had to land that and there was a full emergency situation, there were fire engines, there were ambulances out there. An emergency-like situation was created.

Not only the Chief Minister of West Bengal there were hundred other passengers who were there, including my old colleague, Mukul Roy, who is the chairman of the committee on transport and travel.

The question here is, is there more to it than meets the eye. Sir, this is not a one-off occasion. I am not making any insinuations. Today it is one Opposition leader. Is it a coincidence that this Opposition leader is today at the forefront? There are other Opposition leaders – there is Behenji, there is Sharad Yadav Ji, there is Congress, there is JD(U). Sir, I am not making any allegation.

Sir, please understand. I am not an aviation expert, but I can tell you that when a pilot seeks landing, and you tell him don’t land, and the plane is short on fuel, this can’t happen. Why was it denied to land in the first place? That is why I am saying, today it is one Opposition leader, tomorrow it can be anyone. This is more and more suspicious, because this kind of “ultra-authoritarianism” is happening in many, many spheres. So I seek your protection.

Now, we don’t want to know what could have happened. Three pilots would be called for an enquiry. But this is about the Chief Minister of a State, along with a hundred other passengers. If the Chief Minister of a State is under so much pressure, what happens to normal people in the State?

Sir, I am not insinuating anything but there is a school of thought that believes that this too may be a controversy. This is “tanashahi” of another kind.

Intervention by Derek O’Brien’s intervention Minister’s reply on Mamata Banerjee’s flight snag

If nobody’s life was at stake, why were the emergency services like fire engines and ambulances at the runway?