Saturday, October 27, 2018

Politics to the fore as Amit Shah set to land at Kannur airport

Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah is trying to win brownie points with voters in Kannur—the epicentre of political violence in Kerala and a Left bastion—by becoming the first passenger to land at Kannur airport, even before it gets commissioned in early December. Shah will land in Kannur in a special aircraft on Saturday to inaugurate the newly constructed district office of the BJP. The commissioning of the airport has been tentatively scheduled on December 9.

The ministry of civil aviation has already asked the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to grant permission for landing the aircraft carrying Shah. The Kannur International Airport Limited, it is learnt, had earlier decided not to give approval for Shah’s aircraft to land in Kannur, as the official inauguration was yet to happen. But, finally, they had to give in to the order from the civil aviation ministry. K.P. Jose, executive director, KIAL, denied there was pressure. “It was not a unilateral decision that was taken by the civil aviation ministry. They had informed us about it. It was not forced on us. This is a licensed airport. The Navy had used it during floods in the state,” said Jose to THE WEEK.
The state government, it seems, is not happy. Said K.K. Shailaja, Kerala’s health minister, to THE WEEK, “To use an airport before it is launched is not at all right. Ideally, Amit Shah and his team should have informed the state government about the intention to use the Kannur airport. We were purposely kept out of the loop. The Union government has the habit of deciding everything on its own.”
Union Minister Sadananda Gowda said the CPI(M) government in Kerala is trying to play politics over a trivial matter. “Our party president’s visit to Kannur airport will be beneficial for the state. Once the AAI takes a decision, it is final. There is no need to seek permission from the state government or officials of the airport concerned,” said Gowda to THE WEEK.
26/10/18 Anirudha Karindalam/The Week