For Devendra Fadnavis, Support From Other Passengers on New York Flight

For Devendra Fadnavis, Support From Other Passengers on New York Flight

The Maharashtra Chief Minister retweeted tweets that said he had no role in the delay of the flight.

New Delhi: Two passengers who were on the Air India aircraft that Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis flew to the US in on Monday, have supported him saying he is not to blame for an hour-long delay in take-off.

An author and freelance journalist based in Udaipur who uses the Twitter handle @dushyantkagarwa, tweeted:
 
Another passenger Arvind Shah said, also on Twitter:
 
On Thursday evening, Chief Minister Fadnavis posted a series of angry tweets threatening to "initiate proceedings of criminal defamation" over reports that he delayed the Air India flight by insisting that he would not fly without his full delegation.

He also said, "If at all any report that has been submitted, states that I refused to travel without my delegation then it is a blatant lie because...passengers sitting besides & behind me are witness that I was sitting quietly waiting for departure. Not even once I asked to offload me."

Mr Fadnavis' flight was held up while his principal secretary Praveen Pardeshi's passport was fetched from home; Mr Pardeshi had arrived at the airport with the wrong passport which did not have his US visa stamped.

An internal Air India memo accessed by NDTV records the delay and says that when the Chief Minister's advise was sought, he "responded that he would not travel without his delegation."

It says that "offloading of the entire delegation team of 8 pax alongwith 14 pcs of baggage from two different containers," would've further delayed departure.

"I reiterate, the reports of me delaying flight are misleading. Infact when I'd already boarded how can I say I wont travel without delegation?" Mr Fadnavis tweeted and also,"Enough is enough. Once I m back to India I will initiate proceedings of criminal defamation."

All week, Mr Fadnavis, 44, has drawn severe criticism from political rivals and on social media where people have expressed outrage against "VIP culture". The controversy was revisited on Thursday when it emerged that another Air India flight was delayed last week for about an hour and a family of three was taken off  to accommodate Union Minister Kiren Rijiju and Jammu and Kashmir Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh.