Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari had to wait for over two hours at Mumbai airport on Thursday morning and then book a seat in a private flight after he failed to get permission to fly to Dehradun in a state government aircraft, News18 reported.
The governor’s office said that his secretariat had written to the Maharashtra government on February 2, seeking permission for use of the aircraft, ANI reported. However, after he reached the Mumbai airport and boarded the plane, he was informed that the permission had not been received yet.
“Normally, governors do not wait for the permission to come,” an unidentified source told PTI. “He sat in the aircraft. The pilot then said the permission was not given yet.” Koshyari then booked a ticket in a commercial plane and left for Dehradun around 12.15 pm, according to PTI.
Former Maharashtra Chief Minister and Bharatiya Janata Party leader Devendra Fadnavis termed the incident as an “unfortunate” one and said that it was a “black chapter” for the state, ANI reported. “Governor is not a person, it is a designation,” Fadnavis said. “People come and go, but the designation stays. The government should understand that it is insulting a constitutional post.”
BJP MLA Siddhartha Shirole also pointed out that Koshyari is the constitutional head of Maharashtra. “It is deplorable, that Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray ji has once again bought his personal agenda and his ego to stoop low and force Koshyari to deplane from a government plane and fly commercial instead,” he said in a tweet.
Another BJP leader Sudhir Mungantiwar said that if the state government had purposefully denied the permission, then it was a blot in its reputation and if that was not the case, then the responsible official should be suspended, NDTV reported. Mungantiwar said that the government should apologise for “insulting” the governor.
The relations between the Uddhav Thackeray government and Koshyari have been strained, highlighted by a war of words between him and the chief minister last year over reopening of religious places during the coronavirus pandemic. Currently, the rift between the two is over 12 nominees suggested by the government for the Maharashtra Legislative Council or Upper House in the Assembly, which the governor is yet to sign, according to NDTV.
However, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut denied any link between the two. “We will not resort to revenge politics,” he told NDTV. “Just because he hasn’t signed on 12 names for council, we won’t stop his plane from flying.”
However, another Shiv Sena leader Priyanka Chaturvedi said that no one was allowed to use government planes if it is not for official purposes. “The prime minister himself says whatever the post, we must shun VVIP culture,” she said. “Government planes can go anywhere but if the reasons are personal, then not even the chief minister uses them.”
Shiv Sena MP Vinayak Raut also said that it was not right to use the state government’s plane for going to a personal programme outside the state, reported ANI. “The governor had no permission to use the aircraft, so it was not right that he went there,” Raut said.