Ajit Singh comes under attack in LS

Concern was expressed in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday over continuation of the strike by Air India pilots, with Opposition members targeting civil aviation minister Ajit Singh for his statements outside Parliament indicating privatisation of the national carrier.

Launching a scathing attack on Singh, the Opposition threatened to bring a privilege motion against him for speaking on policy issues on civil aviation outside when the House was in session. They also wanted to know what the government was doing to resolve the 8-day impasse with 71 pilots being sacked for their stir.

The protests, led by Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj, climaxed with the adjournment of the House ahead of the lunch recess with the Opposition objecting to Singh’s absence and asking Speaker Meira Kumar to direct the government to bring him to the House.

Swaraj joined the members of her party BJP, CPI(M), CPI and JD-U in saying that Singh’s remarks to the media on policy matters like privatization amounted to breach of ‘propriety of the House and hence its privilege’.

She said even when Singh had not replied to a discussion on Air India and the ongoing strike in the House, ‘he is making statements on policy matters outside’.

The Speaker said a discussion was already scheduled and the minister would respond to them. ‘How can I direct the government? If I receive a notice, I can look into it,’ Meira Kumar said. Permitting Basudeb Acharia (CPI-M) to raise the issue in Zero Hour, she said she had rejected his adjournment notice.

Acharia said Singh was making statements ‘clearly indicating’ privatisation of Air India, a state-run undertaking. The minister’s only motive is to discredit the national carrier and sell it because he has made it clear that the government will not take the responsibility to run Air India.’
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