Did Prashant Kishor fly to Kolkata during lockdown? Centre begins probe – india news
The Centre has sought to investigate allegations against election strategist Prashant Kishor taking a cargo flight from New Delhi to get to West Bengal, officials aware of the development said.
The enquiry began following news reports alleging that the election strategist had been summoned by West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee to handle the state government’s response over its tussle with the central government regarding actions taken to tackle coronavirus situation in the state.
“We have begun an enquiry and asked the airports to check whether Mr Kishor has in fact defied lockdown orders and attempted to take a flight. Information has been sought from the airports as well,” a senior civil aviation ministry official said requesting anonymity.
Denying the allegation, Kishor told Hindustan Times that the reports were false. “I have not been to any airport after March 19. If anyone has any information contrary to this, they must put the details in public domain,” he said.
According to sources, Kishor had flown from Kolkata on March 19 after a series of meetings with the state government. The lockdown was announced a few days later.
“We have asked airlines who were operating cargo flights to Kolkata and they have denied any involvement,” a senior official at the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said.
Both International and domestic passenger flights have been suspended in India since March 22 and March 25, respectively. Only cargo flights have been allowed to operate. Thus far, 347 cargo flights have operated since the lockdown.
This also comes at a time when the state government and the Centre have been at loggerheads since the extension of the lockdown. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has pulled up the West Bengal government over its handling of the lockdown and the Covid-19 crisis in the state in at least three letters written in the past week.
The home ministry had last week shot off a letter to the Bengal government directing it to allow the two interministerial central teams sent to review implementation of lockdown measures in select districts to carry out their duties.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee hired Kishor-led IPAC in June last year after the the Lok Sabha election. The BJP had won 18 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in the states only four less than the TMC’s 22.
In July, I-PAC had kicked off its campaign with Mamata Banerjee public outreach campaign – ‘Didi Ke Bolo’ (Tell Didi) with the aim to reach out to at least 80% of the 1.6 crore households in West Bengal over the next 20 months ahead of the 2021 legislative assembly elections in the state.