Friday, February 12, 2021

In faceoff again, Maharashtra denies waiting governor use of govt plane

Mumbai: Tensions between the Maha Vikas Aghadi government and Maharashtra governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari came to the fore again on Thursday as the governor was denied use of the state government aircraft to fly to Dehradun for an official event.

A senior bureaucrat said CM Uddhav Thackeray’s additional chief secretary Ashish Kumar Singh spoke to the governor’s principal secretary Santosh Kumar, saying the government would allow use of the VVIP aircraft for Koshyari provided he personally spoke to the CM. But since there was no communication between the governor and Thackeray, the CMO declined permission. Singh did not respond to TOI’s message.

According to a Raj Bhavan statement, the governor was to preside over the valedictory function of the 122nd induction training programme of IAS officers at the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration at Mussoorie, Uttarakhand, at 10 am on Thursday. The governor’s secretariat had on February 2 written to the state seeking permission to use the plane, and the CMO was informed about Koshyari’s itinerary.

Koshyari reached the airport around 9am. “As the governor is the head of state, the CM’s approvals for his flights are a given. Often the approval comes at the last minute, so the governor arrived,” said a source.

Governor B S Koshyari was on Thursday morning denied use of state government aircraft to fly to Dehradun. After the governor’s entourage reached the Mumbai airport’s general aviation terminal in Kalina at 9 am, Koshyari boarded the government’s Cessna Citation XLS aircraft. He was then informed that permission for use had not been received from the CM. Koshyari then left for Dehradun by a commercial aircraft.

The CMO, in a statement, blamed the Raj Bhavan bureaucracy, saying it had failed to ensure permission for travelling by the state aircraft had been obtained from the CMO before the governor reached the airport. “It was expected that Raj Bhavan officials would take adequate care, particularly when it comes to the Governor. Government has taken serious note of the dereliction of duty. The CM has asked the administration to fix responsibility for the fiasco,” it said.

The CMO further stated, “Government is not at fault. It was the responsibility of the Raj Bhavan secretariat to ensure that proper permissions were obtained.”

12/02/21 Pafulla Marpakwar & Manju V/Times of India

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