Ilker Ayci, the former chairperson of Turkish Airlines, on Tuesday declined Tata Group’s offer to be the next chief executive officer of Air India, Reuters reported.
Ayci was appointed for the position by the board of Air India on February 14. His appointment, however, was subject to security clearance from the Ministry of Home Affairs, according to The Indian Express.
In a statement, Ayci said that he met Tata Chairman N Chandrasekaran recently and turned down the position saying he had read about “attempts to colour his appointment with undesirable colours” in some sections of the Indian media, according to Reuters.
“I have come to the conclusion that it would not be a feasible or an honorable decision to accept the position in the shadow of such narrative,” Ayci said.
His reference was towards the demand by Swadeshi Jagran Manch – an affiliate of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh – to block Ayci’s appointment citing “national security” and his previous political links, according to PTI.
Ayci was an adviser in 1994 to Tayyip Erdogan when the Turkish president was mayor of Istanbul.
Ashwani Mahajan, co-convenor of the Swadeshi Jagran Manch, had said that the Centre should not approve Ayci’s appointment since Turkey had been sympathetic to Pakistan, according to Reuters.
“It (Air India) has been a national carrier and it still carries the same importance ... Tata should not get clearance for this,” Mahajan had told Reuters.
On January 27, Tata Sons had regained control of debt-ridden Air India nearly 70 years after its nationalisation.