As Tata Group Raises Debt to Acquire Air India, BJP Gov't Slammed for 'Handing Them a Gift'
10:23 GMT 12.10.2021 (Updated: 10:39 GMT 19.07.2022)
The Indian government last week sold off its ailing national airline Air India to the highest bidder -- Tata Sons who had founded it 68 years earlier. It happened because the government couldn't turn the carrier into a profitable venture and it was witnessing mounting debts. All this made the airline financially unviable for the government.
The Narendra Modi-led federal government has come under fire from opposition parties for selling the national airline Air India for a pittance.
This latest criticism has come from the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI-M) while the board of Tata Sons, the holding company of $103-billion Tata Group, is meeting on Tuesday to discuss plans to raise debt to fund the Air India acquisition.
Senior CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury has slammed the Bharatiya Janata Party
(BJP)-led government for a "relentlessing loot of India's national assets".
"The iconic national flag carrier, Air India, has been sold to [the] Tatas. This sale is tantamount to giving a free gift to the Tatas by the Modi government", said Yechury.
"This debt to Air India accrued because of buying a new fleet of aircraft which as assets now will be owned by the Tatas. Why didn't the government sell these aircraft and clear the debt instead of handing them as a gift to the Tatas", questioned the Communist Party leader.
8 October 2021, 13:53 GMT
On Tuesday, the board of Tata Sons is set to come up with consolidated plans for its airline business.
Aside from spending $2.4 billion on the acquisition, it is estimated that Tata Sons will also have to spend an additional $3 billion to turn the debt-ridden airline around, which might take at least five years.
Opposition parties have seized the airline sale issue as an instance of the BJP government helping its "billionaire cronies".
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, a key Congress politician, during a public rally in Uttar Pradesh on 10 October, also took a dig at Prime Minister Modi for buying expensive aircraft for himself while selling the national airline
for a pittance.
"Modi bought two aircraft for himself for INR 160 billion last year. He sold the entire Air India of this country for just INR 180 billion ($2.4 billion) to his billionaire friends", she said.
The ruling BJP has, however, has supported the long overdue disinvestment saying that the bleeding has finally stopped.