Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Play 'nice' with Naidu: Air Asia tapes trigger political slug fest in Andhra

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu found himself amidst a massive row in the state this week after his name reportedly surfaced in a phone call, purportedly between AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes and the airline’s former CEO Mittu Chandilya.

The tapes are part of a CBI investigation, which has named Tony Fernandes and others in a criminal case. The case is for violating FDI norms in giving effective management to a foreign entity through FIPB clearance in 2013 and attempt to bribe for tweaking rules to get a licence for its joint venture to operate international flights.

According to Business Today, which accessed the tapes, Chadilya reportedly talks about his association to former aviation minister A. Gajapathi Raju, a senior TDP leader who had resigned in March this year, after his party quit the NDA government.
Chadilya also tells Tony that they could get 'everything', if they 'played nice' with Naidu.

"His Finance minister is now the Civil Aviation minister. If you play nice with Chandrababu Naidu, we will get everything. The Civil Aviation minister told me. They want to build Vizag into aviation centre. They are willing to give zero tax on ATF [aviation turbine fuel] as long as we put a hub there. The minister told me that he doesn't want to be seen physically with me that much, but you tell me what you want. This guy is like [Narendra] Modi. It's good to have him on our side," Chandilya was quoted as saying.

The reported remarks made by Chandilya has set off a political storm in Andhra Pradesh with the YSRCP lashing out at the TDP, accusing it of large-scale corruption.

Dubbing the TDP President “a potential lobbyist who can broker deals internationally”, the YSRCP also said that the tapes exposed corruption in the TDP.

Speaking to reporters in Hyderabad on Tuesday, senior YSRCP leader Bhumana Karunakar Reddy said, “The stunning 33-minute audio tapes are in the possession of a Delhi based media group and surprisingly the media outlets friendly to Chandrababu Naidu have ignored the dark sides of these deals and the role of lobbyist Deepak Talwar and his closeness with the chief minister which are under the scanner.”
06/06/18 Nitin B/News Minute