The Shiv Sena on Monday urged the NDA government to take over the temporarily grounded private carrier Jet Airways and save its staff from losing their jobs. It asked Prime Minister Modi to take a cue from the foresight shown by former PMs Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi in nationalising insurance and airline companies.
Speaking about the impact of the temporary shut down of the 25-year-old airline, the Sena, in an editorial in party mouthpiece 'Saamana', said the curse of those rendered jobless would be more powerful than that of a 'sadhvi'.
It was apparently referring to remarks made by BJP leader Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, an accused in the Malegaon blast case, who recently claimed that senior police officer Hemant Karkare died during the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks as she "cursed" him for torturing her. The cash-starved Jet Airways ceased all its operations temporarily last week.
The airline had sought a Rs 400 crore emergency fund from its lenders to whom it already owes over Rs 8,500 crore, but was refused as it was not ready to offer more collaterals. "Such incidents underscore the foresight of Pandit Nehru and Indira Gandhi and their insistence on nationalisation of insurance and airline companies in the country.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi needs to show similar foresight in the matter of Jet Airways," the Sena said. "Our demand to the government is that it take over Jet Airways and save its staff from getting unemployed," said the Uddhav Thackeray-led party, which is an ally of the BJP at the Centre and in Maharashtra.
The Sena said it has presented issues of the airline's staff before the government. "The curse of the staff that is now unemployed is more powerful than that of a 'sadhvi'. The government could have avoided such a situation," it said. It noted that investors had demanded exit of Jet Airways' chairman and founder Naresh Goyal and the State Bank of India was also supposed to provide an assistance of Rs 400 crore to the airline.
However, despite Goyal's exit from the airline, not even Rs 500 was disbursed to its employees, it said. The Sena wondered "if some corporate force was acting behind the curtains to ensure the airline's collapse". Breaking Indian businesses and laying red carpet for foreign investors cannot be the nation's policy, it opined.
Citing the example of the government providing a financial assistance of Rs 29,000 crore to Air India since it was a state-run company, the Sena said Jet Airways and (now defunct) Kingfisher were also Indian companies.
It also expressed surprise over the Bombay High Court's refusal to intervene in the Jet Airways crisis. The high court last Thursday said it cannot direct the government and the Reserve Bank of India to rescue a "sick company".