"This guy is like [Narendra] Modi. It's good to have him on our side," the airline’s former CEO Mittu Chandilya was quoted as saying.

Play nice with Naidu Air Asia tapes trigger political slug fest in Andhra
news Controversy Wednesday, June 06, 2018 - 12:43

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.

Political slug fest

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.”

“During the four-year term of Naidu, his corruption has crossed Rs 4 lakh crore and counting and he has expanded his empire beyond the country’s boundaries. Back home, he has not fulfilled, to the assured extent, even one of the 600 poll promises. Instead, he is busy in brokering deals between corporates and the numerous foreign trips, with public money,” the YSRCP leader alleged.

TDP hits back

The TDP on Tuesday hit back at these allegations, claiming that it was a planned campaign to defame Naidu and Ashok Gajapathi Raju.

Speaking to reporters in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh Planning Board Vice-Chairman C. Kutumba Rao said that he would soon reveal details of the “biggest scam in the country.”

“It is all lies. It is an attempt to tarnish the image of the duo. These are cheap allegations for cheap publicity. Is the tapping of phones of citizens allowed? It means the government is tapping several lakh phones. The country is heading towards totalitarian state,” Rao said.

He added that the scam was manufactured, “to help a corporate close to the Prime Minister.”

Rao also said that two major scams would be exposed within one month, which would create ripples at the Centre.

Background

The CBI FIR named "unknown public servants" of the Civil Aviation Ministry, the then Foreign Investment Promotion Board, R. Venkataramanan, Director AirAsia, the AirAsia Group Deputy CEO T. Kanagalingam alias Bo Lingam.

The FIR also alleges that in December 2014, Sunil Kapoor, who runs an in-flight catering company, along with Bo Lingam handed over a packet containing Rs 50 lakh to facilitate the removal of the rule that required five years domestic flying experience and 20 aircraft to get a licence to fly internationally.

The CBI said it had received information that AirAsia India was indirectly controlled and operated by the AirAsia Group and particularly AirAsia Berhad, violating the norms of the then FIPB.

In its reaction, AirAsia India Limited (AAIL) said it refutes any wrongdoing and was cooperating with all regulators and agencies to present "correct facts".

"In November, 2016 AAIL had initiated criminal charges against its ex-CEO and had also commenced civil proceedings in Bangalore for such irregularities," Air Asia India's Director Shuva Mandal was quoted as saying in a statement.

"We hope to bring early resolution to all such issues," Mandal added.


IANS inputs 

 

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