Defending his stand backing the Centre's decision to lease out the Thiruvananthapuram airport to a private company for 50 years, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor responded to Kerala Finance Minister Dr Thomas Issac's tweet saying "the point was not revenue" but "expanding the airport's potential".
In his tweet, the Kerala Finance Minister has accused the Thiruvananthapuram MP of ignoring the successful model of the state-run Kochi international airport while supporting corporates' bid to "accumulate wealth" in India.
"Shashi Tharoor so eloquent against primitive accumulation of British in India but so vocal for primitive accumulation of corporates in contemporary India. When we have successful model of CIAL in Kochi why does Tharoor consider Adani is indispensable for TVM?" Mr Isaac said in a tweet.
Mr Tharoor responded by quoting examples of how the Airport Authority of India was getting thousands of crores from private firms for operating the Mumbai and Delhi Airports, and added that Kerala stands to benefit from the business investment an optimally utilised airport would attract.
Dear @drthomasisaac, thanks4yr thoughtful criticism of my stand on TvmAirport. I think you miss the point, which is not about revenue. It is about expanding the potential of the airport to its fullest,thereby providing a better facility to businesses&locals &attracting investors.— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) August 22, 2020
Mr Thomas' jibe came hours after Mr Tharoor endorsed Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Puri's explanation on why the Kerala government didn't qualify in the international bidding process and the lease went to Adani Enterprises.
The Congress leader has faced criticism for not towing the part line on the airport issue, but he has stuck to his guns saying his position - that a public-private partnership would work well - has been "consistent". "I am not a politician who says one thing to the voters and something else afterwards for political convenience..." he had tweeted.
The Left government in Kerala, and the Congress-led United Democratic Front have opposed leasing out the Thiruvananthapuram Airport.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has also written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the decision overlooked Kerala's repeated requests for transfer of airport's operations, management and development to a special purpose vehicle in which the state government is a major stakeholder.
In February last year, Adani Enterprises was declared the winner to run six airports as it was the highest bidder. In July 2019, the Centre approved the proposal for leasing out three of them - Ahmedabad, Mangalore and Lucknow - to the Ahmedabad-based company. The proposal to lease out the remaining three - Thiruvananthapuram, Jaipur and Guwahati - was approved by the Union Cabinet on August 19.